Becky's Story: She's The First
Girl power. Growing up, my mom was always about girl power. Empowering myself based on my gender; to overcome female stereotypes and to show that women and girls are capable of more than society gives them credit for. This girl power for me was mostly through athletics, however, the bigger picture for girl power zooms out to education. In America, it is a right to have equal access to education, but imagine if you did not have that right. Imagine that you are a young girl growing up in a low-income country and your “right” is to be a child bride, have kids while still being a kid yourself, and almost never seeing the inside of a classroom past primary school, if that.
As I found myself no longer a student-athlete, I started looking for something I could get myself involved in. It did not take me very long to find the student organization She’s the First. I had seen a few posts from my friends on Facebook about it and was always interested and just never had time to dive in. Dive in I did, and now find myself a major advocate for girls’ education and the importance educating girls plays on local and global scales. I take every chance I get to promote the She’s the First mission in the hopes to bring this issue closer to home.
She’s the First raises money to provide scholarships to girls in low-income countries, in turn, fostering first-generation graduates and creating the next generation of global leaders. Sponsoring girls gives them the chance to delay childbirth and childhood marriage, they will live healthier lives, resist domestic violence, secure themselves a better job, earn higher wages, and breaks the cycle of poverty. These girls use this education and take it back into their local communities and use those real-world skills sets they were taught to become a local leader. Zooming these benefits out to a global scale help bring this closer to home. When girls stay in school even 1 year longer, they have the potential earn up to 10 to 20% more, on average. If these girls keep continuing their education into secondary school, they have a return percent of 18 in future wages. This means educating girls will help they earn more money which in turn boosts their local economy and when local economies receive this boost, so does the global economy. Now that is some serious girl power.
This national nonprofit started with two female twenty-something year olds fresh out of college making a YouTube video. Since then, She’s the First has sponsored over 565 girls in 11 different countries, totaling up to almost 1600 years of education. They had their first million dollar fundraising year in 2015 and are continuing to grow. Girl power.
This organization has given me opportunities and skill sets that will last me a lifetime. It has given me some of my best friends, best mentors, and showed me the importance of being passionate about something and using that passion to help make a difference. We are so incredibly lucky that education is a norm in our culture and breaking that cycle in low-income countries will have countless benefits. I will forever be an advocate for girls’ education with the hopes of instilling in them the mindset my mom instilled in me; girl power. Malala Yousafzai said it best, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.”
Words: Becky M.