In Kenya, 1.6 million girls are high school dropouts. If they could finish their secondary education, they would make 30% more money – and contribute $3.2 billion to the Kenyan economy every year.
Or, they could become one of Kenya’s 204,000 adolescent mothers instead, and lose the economy $500 million a year.
A three billion upside against a half billion downside.
There are 600 million overlooked adolescent girls around the globe, and less than two cents of every international aid dollar is directed to them. The girls are overlooked because they are home caring for babies and the elderly, or handling cooking, washing and other chores for the family. They are less likely than boys to be in school (70% of out-of-school youth worldwide are girls), they are married and giving birth as children (pregnancy is the leading cause of death among girls ages 15-19 worldwide), and they are at disproportionately higher risk for HIV infection. All while they are still teenagers.
The point is not that we need to start new programs for girls. There are plenty of successful ones already in place, and the Nike Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls are working to gather national attention to support them.
I hope you’ll take the time to watch the video, click through to the site, and download the fact sheets. And definitely think of these girls this holiday season; think of them so often that you can’t wait to be a part of the team that is supporting them.
Here’s to the power of girls to change the world.