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International Women’s Day: The Power of Education – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Mar 082011
 

Today isInternational Women’s Day. Today we celebrate the political, economical, and historical strides women have made in our struggle for equal rights. I’ve been trying to figure out what to say all day. In fact, I’d probably blow it off, if I hadn’t put my name on the list of bloggers writing about IWD at Gender Across Borders.

I’ve been reticent because I know how good I have it. I’m a middle class, white, educated woman in an egalitarian marriage to a man who supports me in everything I do. I’m privileged, and I know it. I come from a poor, working class family, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t get an education–not just K–12 public school. I went to college with help from the Pell Grant and the Presidential Honors Scholarship, and I put myself through seminary, working full-time. I bought a house. I chose the jobs I wanted, chose the degrees I wanted, and I waited to marry until after all my education and found a man who had the same egalitarian principles I do. I have been in control of my reproductive choices my entire adult life (and didn’t have to worry about it while I was a child). I’ve dealt with sexism, and the age-old fundamentalist-evangelical myth that a woman’s place is in the home in perfect submission to her man, raising children. I’ve been asked if I was sure I was called to be a pastor and not a pastor’s wife. But I’ve always had choices. For the most part I have been able to make my own choices and do what I want to do.

I’m well aware that most of the women in the world do not have the choices I have. I  know most live on $2 a day, that 70% of the work gets done by women, and  they get paid 30% of the money. They own 1% of the property. I know millions of girls ages 12-14 are married to men much older than they are, and stuck in the cycle of poverty. I know most girls and women in the world do not have the opportunity for education that I have. And even in countries where education is free, boys are sent to school at a much higher rate than girls.

This is why I’m happy there are organizations like The Girl Effect. The Girl Effect works to educate girls all over the world, recognizing when they get educated and work, 90% of what they make goes back to their families and communities. When girls start getting an education, the economy starts changing, and poverty becomes less likely. GAB has a great write-up of The Girl Effect:

The Girl Effect is an organization that is making leaps and bounds in advocating for girls’ right to education. Through extensive research The Girl Effect clearly demonstrates international development depends on adolescent girls.  One might not think that access to education, a basic human right, needs to be framed as a development issue for it to be realized but in much of the world and among many of it’s leaders this is the case. Through advocacy The Girl Effect encourages international policy makers, state governments and individuals to put girls education at the fore of their efforts to develop and prosper.  Although the obstacles are enormous for girls when it comes to education, they are not insurmountable and The Girl Effect, demonstrates that these challenges must be met for the world to be a better place for all.

Yes, I’m privileged, and that means I can work with organizations like The Girl Effect to make sure one day every 40 year old woman can look back on her life and say what I just said: I’m educated. I made my own choices. I controlled my reproductive choices. I chose the man I wanted to marry. I live the life I want to live.

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Did you know there are only eight verses in the Bible that discourage women from speaking and holding leadership positions in the church? Did you know there are thousands of verses in the Bible that tell the stories of women who were leaders in their homes, towns, and religious circles? Meet the women in the Bible who were religious & civic leaders, business women, & women who challenged both Jesus and Moses in What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School. What else didn’t you learn in Sunday School? Find out when you buy What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School: Women Who Didn’t Shut Up & Sit Down from Wipf and Stock Publishers or Amazon.com today.

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