I sat on the porch in my village of farms,
When a young girl approached me, a babe in her arms.
We started to talk, though a lot went unspoken.
Her words were Pular and her French, it was broken.
I asked her what grade she was in and she scoffed.
“Failed the Brevet so dad married me off.
The class all must pass this exam to continue
To high school. I didn’t, in take 1 or take 2.
Mon mari, il est vieux, an old man I don't see.
And now with this child? Pour moi, c’est fini."
I think of that girl, alone and forlorn.
We are the same, but the day I was born
I won the lotto without buying a ticket,
How did I just saunter in there and win it?
Time, place, and parents gave me the chance
To develop myself, to dance my dance,
To bask in my freedom with rights fundamental,
To explore, and grow, and unearth my potential,
And learn that the greatest way to spend a life
Is by giving back that which has made it so bright.
That’s why I’m here in Africa’s West,
Teaching young women the things I love best.
Were I in her place, I never could stand it,
So why let it slide for girls all round the planet?
And in my class, the stakes are high.
Keep girls engaged and I keep them their lives.
Keep them from being child wives at 13,
Keep them from births that will snuff out their dreams.
Seem too extreme? Take a look at the data.
“Make no mistake,” the World Bank says, “the state of
Our world could be changed if we lift up these girls."
Let's sift through the wisdom I’ll lift out the pearls:
Many studies clearly state
Education lowers poverty rates.
So what do you think happens to any nations
That fail to instruct half of their populations?
Countries lose more than 1 billion a year
By failing to educate girls, and it's clear that
Increased school yields increased earning-
20 percent every year that she’s learning.
This is not just idealistic.
Want more business? Teach the Mrs.
Her brain is a basin of great innovation
But here it is wasting on meal preparation.
Why embrace this self-imposed sanction?
A prescription for your economic castration?
Not only are well-taught women wealthier,
They and their children are also much healthier.
HIV/AIDs-the rates go on down
With diplomas, and researchers also have found that
Educated girls tend to have fewer kids.
The ones that they do have, well, they tend to live.
Infant mortality down 10 percent
With each extra year in a class she has spent.
Back to birth rates-if they aren't reduced
Guess what will come with the influx of youth?
Poor and unguided with not much to do?
Best intervene before violence ensues.
We are in wars that our swords can not win.
When fighting ideas-tell me where to begin?
They spread round like fires that burn unexpected.
And just when you thought you were safe and protected,
Each terror you kill, you build up another-
All those who loved them-their daughters, their brothers.
It seems an inferno we never could smother.
I wonder-what if we’d taught all their mothers?
It's not only right. It’s also so smart,
Should capture your mind and should grasp at your heart.
If you open your eyes you’d be blind not to see.
To unlock a world that's more safe, just, and free?
To open the door to our health, wealth, and peace?
Girls' education is the golden key.
There's no other investment so sure of return.
The whole world progresses when girls get to learn.
If they come in first we all take home the prize
So tell me, how will you help them to rise?