A friend of mine recently pointed out a project he thought might be interesting to me and the other Travelettes. And how right he was. Because I am a girl is a fantastic project by non-profit organization Plan UK focussing on helping girls in 3rd world countries receive better education, be better recognized as equal to boys and make their way in society as strong women building the nation. I’m referring to countries like Togo, Uganda, Benin or Cambodia.

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girl from Malawi carrying her little brother

The Plan UK website points out some uncomfortable facts:

  • 100 million women are ‘missing’ in the developing world because they are killed before or after birth.
  • Girls are less well-nourished than boys because their brothers are often fed first.
  • Pregnancy related illnesses are a leading cause of death for young women ages 15 to 19 worldwide.
  • 90 per cent of child domestic workers are girls between 12 and 17 years old, and are at risk of both sexual and economic exploitation, violence and abuse.
  • 60% of girls aged 15-19 in sub Saharan Africa are married

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girls in India building their own school – photo by Gurpal Kaher

Since the birth of this organization in 2007, a lot has been achieved. Owing to their efforts, enough pressure could be produced upon the British government that their Department of International Development has made it one of its top priorities to try and become more familiar with and ultimately improve gender and education issues in developing countries. Celebrity supporters and collaborators including Cherie Blair, Marie Claire Magazine and many others donate their time and energy towards the cause of Because I am a girl through various actions. Even a book has been published with 7 short stories from authors such as Irvine Welsh, about the lives of young girls living and struggling in 3rd world countries. You can buy this lovely book on Amazon for less than 7 Euros. All proceeds will go to the Plan UK organization.

There are various ways for you to get involved. You can start small by signing the petition to urge world leaders to take notice of these girls in need. Send the link to all your friends and family, because every voice counts.

If you can afford it, you can sponsor a girl (or a boy, if you wish), choosing which part of the world your sponsored child ought to live in. You will then get regular updates and photos on how your child is doing. Fropm personal experience I can say this is a very rewarding way to spend just a small sum of money which will help a whole village.

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kids from the 10000 girls project in Senegal

Another lovely way to help is by buying a girl a gift. For under 10 Euros you can pay for a child to get registered (which is a condition to getting healthcare, going to school or voting), you can get a girl glasses, clean water for school or 3 textbooks. 17 Euros will help make school accessible for girls and 80 Euros could help a woman launch her own business. This is something easy for you to do and little money to spare and you’re doing something you can really feel good about.

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Sudanese school girls – photo by Arsenie Coseac

The Travelettes have donated their ad revenue towards some of those gifts, among them child registration, village vaccinations and accessible education for girls. Should you donate or buy a child a gift, let us know in the comments as it might inspire others to follow your example.