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Girl Power: Channeling the Energy and Compassion of Young Girls in America

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Star made out of fingers shaped like "v" Girl Power—My husband, the night owl, gets in bed at 1:36am. His arrival is unmistakable—electric blanket switched on and clicked 15 times (not exaggerating—he really likes it that warm!), bathroom light switched on, and off, then on and off again, followed by a few twists and turns in bed before he falls fast asleep, snoring and all.  In case you haven’t guessed it, I am now wide awake. After a solid 20 minutes of trying to will myself back to sleep, I give up and slink (quietly!) downstairs to read a magazine and try to get sleepy again.

Too bad for me the periodical I chose was Time magazine and the article I zeroed in on was Nancy Gibbs’ back-cover essay entitled “The Best Investment.” Instead of letting my reading lull be back into a haze, this inspiring article drew me right to my laptop, to the Girl Up website, to read more about the ways in which Girl Power can be harnessed to fight poverty, combat extremism, and spread education to young women across the globe. I was energized!

Girl Up is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, created to channel the energy and compassion of 100,000 American girls to raise awareness and funds for programs that protect their international peers from the dangers of  sexual violence and child marriage and give these adolescent girls access to education and health care.

Larry Summers, Director of the White House National Economic Council and former Chief Economist of the World Bank, calls investment in girls’ education the “highest return investment in the developing world.” Yet, to date, only about one of every 10 worldwide youth development programs are aimed at girls. Girl Up seeks to change that, beginning right here in the United States, with its fundraising efforts to support girls internationally and create the next generation of leaders.

Through its “High Five” program, American girls learn how donating just $5 can provide their counterparts abroad with access to basic needs such as school supplies, clean water, and life-saving health services. In typical “American” style, the word is being spread through Twitter, Facebook, and yes, texting, about Girl Up Pep Rallies.

Girl Up Pep Rallies are organized in high schools across the US, providing students with “passports” and encouraging them to “travel” to such destinations as Malawi, Liberia, Ethiopia and Guatemala, using fun games and trivia to learn about the unique challenges faced by young girls in each country.

Learning about Girl Up failed to put me back to sleep last night. Rather, it awakened me to the possibilities of reaching out to young women abroad and teaching my own two daughters about the challenges faced by their “sisters” around the world. I love the Girl Up program for its innovative ideas and powerful demonstration of the universe of good that can be accomplished, even from a world away.

How do you teach your daughters about the challenges that their "sisters" face around the world? How do you and your daughters take action to help other girls and women in need?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Signe Whitson, LSW is a mom of two girls and has been working with families for over ten years teaching them about passive aggressive behavior. Her relationship advice has helped many families in need. Signe also writes for My Baby Clothes. A store that specializes in providing the best baby clothes, cutest tutus and gorgeous baby headbands for your precious babies.

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