In recent years, there has been a remarkable societal shift that better recognizes the incredible power of educating girls. This awareness doesn’t just improve individual lives; it’s a powerhouse driving entire societies and economies forward. Right in the heart of this change is Children Believe, an international humanitarian and development agency that is dedicated to supporting children around the world, particularly girls, so they can become a voice for change.
“Closing the gender gap in education not only allows younger women and girls to dream fearlessly, it also adds half a percent to a country’s per capita gross national product,” says Fred Witteveen, CEO, Children Believe. “We’ve also learned that educating girls worldwide can have a greater impact on the climate crisis than adopting electric cars.”
According to a recent report by The World Bank, if every girl received 12 years of quality education, child marriage would plunge by two-thirds and girls’ higher lifetime earnings would grow global economies by as much as $15 to $30 trillion. In fact, if girls complete high school, it is estimated they are three-times less likely than girls with no education to be married before age 18.
Nations with low rates of female workforce involvement can increase its GDP by 35 per cent just by bridging the gender gap. This surge is primarily due to adding workers to the workforce, but also thanks to the gender diversity effect on productivity. Finally, women’s incomes are predicted to increase by 25 per cent for every year of secondary school they complete.
“Children Believe wants to change the narrative from gender discrimination being another problem to be solved to recognizing that educating girls is a significant solution to world issues,” Witteveen says.
That sentiment is the driving force behind their “Believe In Girls Like Me” initiative which encourages Canadians to donate as little as $10 a month to support the futures of young girls worldwide. The non-profit organization also enables donors to sponsor a child and support specific community projects and programs.
“Last year alone, we helped 200,000 girls get greater access to education through our programs. The Believe In Girls Like Me campaign aims to inspire and educate Canadians about the power of global education and encourage many to view supporting girls’ education as a solution,” says Witteveen.
Children Believe successfully breaks education barriers. A water project in Northern Ghana is just one example. In many Ghanaian households, young girls are responsible for fetching waters, which entails walking kilometres on foot while juggling a heavy water container every morning. This would cause most young girls to either be late to school and exhausted, or miss their lesson completely. Children Believe pooled funds together by creating a clean and accessible water source for this community and they saw an immediate rise in school attendance. “When you provide basic things, children flourish,” Witteveen says.
Through initiatives such as “Believe In Girls Like Me” and the child sponsorship program, Children Believe’s goal is full transparency by offering Canadians with constant updates on how their donations are spent.
“We want Canadians to believe in the difference they’re making and understand that when you educate children around the world, everyone benefits from the resulting economic growth. This change not only improves a child’s future, but helps to create a more prosperous community and a healthier world over the long term.”
In and out of the classroom, Children Believe works with local partners, school administrations, community leaders, families and government agencies all around the world to help children, especially young girls, overcome barriers and reach their full potential.
While Children Believe empowers young learners of all ages year round, October 11 marks International Day of the Girl. In recognition of that day, Children Believe hopes to inspire Canadians to be a part of the solution by supporting girls’ education. As we look ahead, the impact of educating girls remains an unparalleled force. From unlocking economic avenues to sparking transformation, the empowerment of girls stands as a beacon of hope. This journey isn’t just about education; it’s about nurturing a future where the potential of every girl flourishes.