A Note from A Girl in College

Aug 9, 2023

Of the 132 million girls that are out of school globally, 34 million of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa – making it the largest single region of need in the world. Girls who don’t have the support to access education are 3x more likely to marry by age 18. [1] Of these girls, an estimated 17 million girls -about the population of New York- undergo “forced pregnancy” (a gentler way of saying rape) annually.[2] And if that’s not enough – many of them die in the process – meaning that 34 million girls are facing a future deprived of hope. If all females in developing countries completed primary education, the child mortality rate would drop by a sixth resulting in one million lives saved every year.[3]

Despite these statistics and your personal (most likely transformative) experience with education, it is overwhelmingly unlikely that any of these statistics will convince the average reader to help. Why? Because when we are confronted with a horrific reality, the natural human reaction is to disregard. Our brains would rather pretend that the only reality that exists is the one right in front of us. Even when presented with the facts. 

We’d rather believe that every girl gets to go to school like our daughters do, like we did. We’d like to think that everyone gets a fairytale wedding and a cookie-cutter house in the suburbs. We’d like to think your circumstances don’t dictate your future. We’d like to imagine that rape doesn’t exist. We disregard the stories of our daughters, our coworkers, our mothers, and sometimes the stories of ourselves. But they are real, and they are happening right now. 

You may choose not to act because what do you owe these girls? How do they have anything to do with you? I’d like to politely remind you that, as far as I can tell, the only reason you aren’t where they are right now is because of chance. I’ve found no evidence to dispute that you could be in their position as easily as they could be in yours simply depending on what situation you were born into. That girl in rural Uganda, who’s been forced into marriage and pregnancy, and is 13, could’ve easily been your daughter, your mother, or your wife. She might as well be – only luck has decided that she isn’t.

I’m calling on you – yes YOU – to provide the support that you would if she was your daughter. There’s no ‘everybody else’. 


WRITTEN BY: Abby Copeland

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