By Lauren Muscarella, 4WomenWorldwide Contributor
“Investing in women is smart economics, and investing in girls, catching them upstream, is even smarter economics.” – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, The World Bank
Last December I traveled to the Dominican Republic. My priorities included sun bathing on beautiful beaches, drinking fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in the morning, and mojitos on the beach at sunset. True, I am aware of the social challenges in the Dominican Republic but back then I outsourced it. I had a really good team in place. My travel companion spent years living and working in the DR to improve education. At the home base, my good friend Shelley, creator and visionary of For Women Worldwide, led my education and awareness department.
Global poverty at the time seemed too daunting a challenge and one best handled by other people. Last winter I started to connect with the ideas. Instead of being intimidated by the overwhelming scope of the social issues we face globally, I started to get angry. I believe this empowering emotion can be the first step to full blown activism. The next step is to acquire weaponry; aka information. With information and action, I becomes we; we as a community of like-minded people can become informed, take action and make a difference.
On my trip, my hostess talked frequently about her new project: The Mariposa DR Foundation to educate, empower and employ girls living in extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic. The idea is simple: A woman is the world’s most powerful force for change. Empowering her is the first step to empowering entire communities.
Countless studies show that investing in the education, health and empowerment of a girl today means that she will have the tools to make smart choices that will better her life and the lives of others. She will reinvest 90 percent of her income back into her family and her community, transforming her into an influential figure for change. If you want to end poverty and help the developing world, the best thing you can do is invest time, energy, and funding into adolescent girls. Still skeptical? Check out this brilliant video, courtesy of The Girl Effect.
The Mariposa DR Foundation is participating in an open challenge to earn a permanent spot on the Global Giving Web site, a non-profit that creates an online community for donors to connect with charities. Earning a spot with Global Giving means that more new donors will find the organization and ensures that only 10 to 15 percent of the donation goes to processing fees. To learn and donate, click here.
Minimal amounts of money to most of us can make a life-changing difference in the developing world. This holiday season, consider this:
- $20 gives one girl a healthy breakfast for one month
- $50 buys 10 girls a school uniform
- $100 provides HIV/AIDS prevention training for 15 girls
- $250 provides one girl with safe transportation to and from school every day for one year
- $1,000 pays for one girl for the Summer Leadership Program
I’ll start with the first $20.