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What if the world had 1,000 girls?
Nearly half of the approximately 8 billion people walking the earth today are women and girls. Yet here in 2022, the odds are still stacked against them.
The statistics can be overwhelming. What if the world only had 1,000 girls? What would these statistics and our world look like?
- 138 girls would not attend school. In developing countries, girls are twice as likely to be out of school. Education is expensive, so girls are often denied schooling in contexts where it is assumed that boys will take on the role of earning income to support their families. But educating girls can help them, their families and communities break the cycle of poverty.
- 78 girls would work in forced child labor. The worst forms of child labor, such as slavery, trafficking, sexual exploitation and hazardous work, put them at risk of death, injury and disease.
- 103 girls would undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). The majority of these girls would be “circumcised” before the age of 5.
- 50 girls are said to have experienced forced sex at some point in their lives. If the 1,000 girls were all adolescents (aged 15-19) and had been in a relationship before, 240 girls would have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner or husband.
- 250 girls would report an increase in family conflict since the COVID-19 pandemic. For women with husbands or partners, 700 of those 1,000 would say that verbal or physical violence by a partner has become more common. The short- and long-term effects of violence are devastating, including physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems for women that also affect their children, harming their health and well-being.
- 200 girls would be married as children. Early marriage harms the development and wellbeing of girls, limiting their education and employment opportunities, isolating them from friends and family, and increasing their vulnerability to domestic violence and rape. Anuradha is one of those girls…
Dawn has just made its appearance and the sky is beginning to clear. Just as Anuradha was about to collect her school uniform, “wear the new dress we bought for you,” her mother said.
Little did she know that her mother wanted her to dress up in an outfit for an event that would change her life.
Anuradha was just 13 when she got married – and less than a year after her wedding, she gave birth to her first child.
“As a child myself, I always wanted to study and become a teacher. I really didn’t understand marriage and its facets until I was 19,” she says, her eyes filled with regret.
Her husband allowed her to continue attending school. Unfortunately, when Anuradha was due to take her final exams, she was eight months pregnant with her second child. Due to the dangerous stress on her pregnancy, her family convinced her to miss her exams and she dropped out of school.
It was during this time that Anuradha participated in a program in her village on the importance of maternal, newborn and child health, organized by World Vision India.
“Since this program, I started participating in all the programs offered in my community because I felt empowered by the knowledge I was acquiring,” says Anuradha.
Anuradha joined World Vision India as a volunteer and started training children in education and child rights. She soon realized that the dreams of many girls in her village were being silenced due to societal norms regarding child marriage, which almost killed her dreams too.
In 2016, Anuradha joined the Child Protection Unit (CPU) formed by World Vision India in her village. In two years, she reported five cases that not only ended these marriages and counseled the families involved, but also led widespread education on the negative consequences of child marriage.
In 2017, Anuradha was recognized by the District Collector and awarded a bravery award for ending these child marriages. She is now finishing her graduate studies and wants to obtain a bachelor’s degree in education and become a teacher.
“My life has changed. I used to be very angry about my marriage, but now I have left the regret behind and am determined to secure the lives of other girls in my community. I am extremely proud when girls come to thank me for ending their marriage”.
Imagine how different this world would be if 1,000 girls were sponsored.
Child sponsorship helps reverse the trend of violence and discrimination against girls, engaging with communities to address gender inequalities and harmful gender norms that perpetuate violence and empowering these communities to protect girls.
Child sponsorship educates children, families and communities and helps girls stay in school. This helps families improve their incomes so they can better support their children, so they don’t use early marriage or child labor as an escape.
Child sponsorship teaches girls and their communities to use their voice to take action and demand changes in law, policy and practice to protect girls from exploitation and abuse.
If the world had 1,000 girls, or 965 million, would you be willing to help any of them?
Join the movement to sponsor 1,000 girls by October 31 through World Vision. Sponsor a girl now on worldvision.org.nz/give-now/sponsor-a-child