First Lady Michelle Obama has made waves throughout her husband’s presidency, using her position of privilege and influence to reform the healthy eating initiative in public schools, argue for numerous economic reform bills within the federal government, and support popular movements like #BringBackOurGirls. This past spring, Obama introduced the “Let Girls Learn” initiative, aimed at supporting education for girls worldwide.
At a luncheon on June 29th, she asked the audience to support and aid girls and young women in staying in school throughout some of the world’s most impoverished nations. The partnership between the Peace Corps, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Department of State, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation will attempt to confront the issues that many face in attending school on a regular basis, be it work to alleviate poverty, child marriage, or gender-based violence. Volunteers across the globe are training to make a difference via grassroots efforts, building diplomatic ties with communities.
For the initial collaboration, Peace Corps will work with 11 countries to eliminate gender discrepancies in education. Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda currently serve as home to thousands of Peace Corps volunteers as they work on projects related to health, domestic violence, and food security. While it seems like these have little to do directly with girls’ education, in reality, it has a strong impact on allowing them the freedom to worry about school instead of how they can help their parents feed their families.
On the White House “Let Girls Learn” website, statistics revealed a shocking portrait of what education was like for many around the globe: “To educate a girl is to build a healthier family, a stronger community, and a brighter future. Unfortunately today, 62 million girls around the world are not in school. Half of them are adolescents,” states the introduction to the cause. According to the fact sheet provided by the website, millions upon millions of dollars are being sunk into improving the quality of girls’ lives and education worldwide.
However, what’s missing from the “Let Girls Learn” website is a way for passionate readers to get involved in the cause. While there’s a sign up form and embeddable logo for people who want to bring more attention to the work that the government is doing to intervene in deplorable situations abroad, there isn’t much more revealed past armchair activism. The Peace Corps website dedicated to the initiative, however, reveal more ways that people can create change.
Not everyone can suddenly become a Peace Corps volunteer, but for those with the resources on hand, there is a fund available that accepts donations until September 30, 2015. If you have spare time, Peace Corps also offers a PDF toolkit that guides you through possible fundraisers and flyers to print in order to raise awareness. However, this likely still leaves more to be desired when it comes to creating meaningful change.
When we have the privilege to receive excellent education and the information necessary to do something, the best thing we can do is to use it to help the underprivileged. Seek out local initiatives to send international aid. Dive into research on how you can do your part in aiding a global problem. You may uncover some harsh facts and endure the frustration of activism and seemingly never-ending problems, but even one push against the current is still a push.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.