Why #GIRLWITHABOOK Matters

Recently, a friend and supporter of #GIRLWITHABOOK reminded me that although National Geographic is known for spectacular nature and wildlife photography, its most famous image is a portrait of a 12-year-old Afghan refugee girl named Sharbat Gula. Her photograph was taken at a refugee camp at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The photographer was Steve McCurry and he found her sitting in a tent, which served as a girls’ school.

Like millions of people, this portrait captured my heart almost the moment I first saw it. And now every time I look at it, I think of the mere 12% literacy rate for girls in Pakistan, I think of the 200,000 women in South Africa who are victims of violence every year, I think of the countless women in the US who are raped on college campuses.

This photograph reminds of girls and women who are denied their rights to this day. But it also reminds me of their courage and determination to be more than a statistic.

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For those who have been following this blog for awhile, you know all about the #GIRLWITHABOOK project that Olivia and I started two years ago. And now I have some updates regarding that. Last month, we applied for a National Geographic contest called Expedition Granted for the chance to win $50,000 to go and do any sort of project that we have always dreamed of.

Our expedition idea: Take #GIRLWITHABOOK to 12 countries in 12 months in order to highlight different individuals and organizations who are doing incredible work for girls’ education. This would mean filming interviews, taking photographs, and keeping our supporters updated through our social media channels on what we discover on the status of girls’ and women’s rights in those countries.

Our tentative list of countries includes: Egypt, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, and Yemen.

Here’s the exciting part. National Geographic picked our project as a finalist out of approximately 700 projects! And now it’s up to us to get as many votes as we can.

So since today is the last day to vote, I thought I would lay out some facts as to why #GIRLWITHABOOK, and ultimately girls’ education, matters.

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Jen

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It’s been thirty years since the portrait of Sharbat Gula was published in National Geographic’s June 1984 issue, and today there are 32 million girls who cannot even attend schools set up in tents. This is why education matters for girls and women. This is why I want our expedition to become a reality. This is why I’m still doing this project, two years after a terrorist tried to kill Malala Yousafzai. This is why #GIRLWITHABOOK matters. 

Stand with us and VOTE for our expedition:  http://expeditiongranted.nationalgeographic.com/project/girlwithabook/

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Let me guess. You hate feminism.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you A BULLET LIST OF REALLY TERRIBLE/STUPID THINGS STILL HAPPENING IN THE WORLD TODAY

DOES IT SOUND LIKE I’M SHOUTING IN YOUR HEAD? I assure you I’m not. It’s just really fun to type in all caps sometimes.

  • In the 1780s, around 80,000 people were trafficked during the transatlantic slave trade. Today, 600,000 – 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. 80% of those people are women. Read more about it in Half the Sky.
  • Men AND women hating on the word “feminism” because they think feminists or feminazis (because obviously there’s a correlation between feminism and nazism) are crazy women who have no sense of humor and hate all men.
  • People in denial about climate change.
  • 1 in every 3 women will be sexually abused or assaulted at some point in her life. That statistic is from the United Nations.
  • Discrimination. That shit sucks.
  • Approximately 60 million children around the world not being able to go to school.
  • Last week, some creep strutting down the street thinking it would be fun to snicker and say in a low voice, “Get home safe,” to me and my friends (who were all girls) as we waited at a bus stop.
  • Homophobia. That really sucks too.
  • There are people who think racial equality and gender equality are mutually exclusive goals and one takes priority over the other. That kinda sucks for us non-white females. I’m just sayin.
  • Bullying. (I’ll be devoting a whole post to that soon)
This is really all you need to know. via Men and Feminism

This is really all you need to know.
via Men and Feminism

Being a feminist is in everybody’s best interests. Being a feminist is not the polar opposite of being feminine. Men can be and are feminists too. Here’s what it all comes down to: If you believe men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, then you can safely assume that you are a feminist. (Take that as good news or bad news). Someone calling you a feminist isn’t an insult. Be who you are and say what you feel. Take Tyrion Lannister’s advice and wear what you are like armor.

Tyrion Lannister

Adding on to the point I’m trying to make: If there are still women who are victims of acid attacks, who are gang-raped and beaten to death on a bus in India, who are denied the right to an education, who are mocked and called “bitches” at work when they show leadership skills, who are harassed on the street everyday simply because of the clothes they are wearing…then there is something fundamentally wrong with the way things are running. Sheryl Sandberg might be on to something –> More women in leadership positions means a better future for women everywhere. And considering women make up half the global population, that makes the entire world a better place. For everyone.

You may not like feminism, but…

Feminism is for everybody

There is much work to be done. Don’t you agree?