Every child in the world should have the right to an education, but millions are still denied one. Countless children in impoverished areas are out of school, due to cultural and social norms, and often extremism, and the world is deprived of their potential. Most notable, though, is the fact that the majority of these children are female, because poverty, too, is sexist.
An astounding 130 million adolescent girls worldwide are out of school; a whole generation of girls are not allowed to have the opportunity to gain a basic education – to learn and therefore make positive change, not only on a personal level, but to impact political and social change globally.
To bring awareness to this global crisis, and tackle the treatment and perception of young girls in poverty, ONE has launched the powerful digital campaign #GirlsCount ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8th. The campaign features a series of videos in which international supporters say a number between one and 130 million to represent all the girls out of education.
Among the ranks of supporters standing in solidarity to bring to attention the seriousness and scale of the crisis, are famous faces including Malala Yousafzai, David Oyelowo, Michael Sheen, Angelique Kidjo, Sheryl Sandberg, Charlize Theron and Bono.
In her video clip for the #GirlsCount, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says the number ‘five’, to signify the age at which young girls worldwide typically start school. ‘130 million girls around the world are out of school,’ she says. ‘One of the challenges in effectively addressing this global crisis is conveying its staggering scale.
‘I joined the count at ONE.org choosing number five because that’s the age millions of girls around the world should be walking into a classroom for the first time. Far too many of them will never get that chance, unless we demand world leaders act.’
Malala Yousafzai, an activist for female education, chose the number ‘one’, ‘because every girl, every single one, has the right to go to school.’
Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award-winning artist and activist said: ‘130 million girls are being denied an education. That’s 130 million of our sisters, our daughters and tomorrow’s leaders who are not in school, and it has to stop.’
The campaign invites people from all backgrounds, races and genders to count: to pick a number between one and 130 million and post a video or picture to ONE.org, so ONE can combine all the videos to make the longest ever film; a film to galvanize world leaders into taking notice and initiating change.
‘It’s a global crisis that 130 million girls are not in school,’ says The ONE Campaign’s Roxane Philson. ‘It costs less than a loaf of bread to send a girl in one of the world’s poorest countries to school each day – a small investment that could save more than a million lives and add more than $100 billion dollars to the global economy every year. #GirlsCount is uniting people to make the scale of this crisis clear and to call on leaders to do more.’
On International Women’s Day thousands of ONE activists will stage a global ‘walk-in’ where they will hand-deliver a 340,000-signature open letter to their elected representatives calling for every girl to receive an education.
To view the campaign and join the count, click here. See Charlize Theron's video below:
READ MORE: How To Celebrate International Women's Day