By Chelsea Stuart
“She’s the First” is an organization that works with sponsors to fund girls’ secondary education in low-income countries like India, Nepal and Ethiopia. Founded in 2009, STF connects sponsors with girls around the world in “innovative, mutually beneficial ways to foster mentorship, philanthropy, equality, and leadership.” They currently run 125 different chapters across 10 countries and have 450 girls sponsored. The goal of the organization is to ensure the success of their scholars in living healthier, resisting domestic violence, earning higher wages, and breaking the cycles of generational poverty that can be seen in their communities. Each girl sponsored through She’s the First has their tuition, uniform and food covered, as well as access to a dedicated mentor and support network.
Maheshwari, a She’s the One scholar and first generation graduate from India
Girls’ Education Around the World
She’s the First aims to make it clear that their program isn’t just about educating girls lucky enough to find sponsorship. Statistically, those who receive a secondary education are more likely to change the cycle of poverty in their families, communities and countries. She’s the First creates a ripple effect; sponsorships aren’t an investment in one person, they are empowering for those the girls interact with as well. Increasing female education improves a myriad of societal issues. Higher populations of educated women means improving child nutrition, lowering birthrates among younger demographics, lowering the number of child marriages, upping the percentage of female employment, combating gender inequality and more. The following facts on female education have been gathered by UNESCO, Education First, UNICEF and the World Bank.
- Globally there are 65 million girls not in school.
- There are 33 million less girls than boys receiving a primary school education.
- An extra year of secondary school can increase a girl’s future earnings by 15-25 percent.
- Of the 774 million illiterate people in the world, two-thirds are girls.
- Education narrows the pay gap between men and women. In Pakistan, women with a primary education earn 51 percent of what men earn while with a secondary education, they earn 70 percent of what men earn. Similarly, in Jordan, women with a primary education earn 53 percent of what men earn, and with a secondary education, 67 percent of what men earn.
- Of every international development dollar that is allocated for education, less than 2 cents is directed specifically to girls.
She’s the First is completely transparent in terms of how their fundraising and sponsorship works; 100 percent of donations go directly to the costs of providing education. If you choose to sponsor a girl, you can pick between 10 different partner programs and the exact cost of funding a girl’s education in each country is listed. The organization also puts names to faces and you can read the stories of each sponsored scholar. Likewise, you’re welcome to read short blurbs about the individuals who run the company, including their staff, board directors and advisory council and the partner programs they works with. As it says on their website, “Our philosophy is that quality always trumps quantity. We partner with organizations who believe the same. Each girl we sponsor is given multiple tools to ensure her success in this world, during and after her school years. Our scholars learn more than science and math; they learn how to apply their new skills to the world around them, encouraged by a support system every step of the way.”
How You Can Help
She’s the First Campus Representatives
Aside from sponsoring a girl or donating to the organization, if you’re still a student, you can join (or start your own) She’s the First campus chapter. Run by student leaders, campus chapters can be found on high school and college campuses around the US. The purpose of these chapters is to create dialogue about girls’ education among students and communities through informational sessions and social media. Chapter members work with peers as well as professors and other professionals to come up with ways to fundraise for the cause. They also host events like documentary screenings, panel discussions and campus events to involve and educate other students. Chapter members are also encouraged to communicate with a She’s the First pen pal. If you’re interested in joining an existing chapter or starting your own, find out more information here.
Other ways to help bring awareness and funds to the cause include hosting a bake sale, joining a fitness class, hosting your own fundraising event, volunteering in NYC, hosting a documentary screening, sending an e-card, interning, supporting an auction and shopping She’s the First merchandise. Your options are near limitless! Find out more here.
About the Writer
Chelsea Stuart is a recent graduate of Boston’s Emerson College. When she’s not reeling from wanderlust (she lived on a ship for four months and visited 15 countries with the study abroad program Semester at Sea), she’s planning her next trip, reading, writing, thrifting and drinking an absurd amount of coffee. She hopes to one day (soon) pursue a career in publishing and try her luck in The City that Never Sleeps.
All photos via She’s the First