by Elaine Wallace The Sahara Desert is one of the driest, harshest environments on Earth. With sparse vegetation and very little rain, only the hardiest, drought-adapted plants and animals survive there. But the Sahara was not always a desert. 10,000 years ago, it was a lush grassland with rivers, lakes, trees, and abundant wildlife. It’s… Read more »
by Mehreen Quadri According to a UNICEF report from 2013, 23.2% of women in Niger are literate. Factors such as culture, family and societal pressures, and the fact that Niger’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, perpetuate some of the highest rates of illiteracy and the lowest rates of formal education in Africa. Most families in… Read more »
by Kristopher Coulston Access to clean water is not only essential for life, it is also essential for a thriving economy. When a nation’s citizens do not have ready access to clean water, every aspect of the country is negatively impacted, especially the economy. Women and girls are the citizens who are most affected by… Read more »
By Barbara Goldberg Paul Hawken, a well-known author and activist recently published a book, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever to Reduce Global Warming. In it, he identifies the 100 top solutions to reducing global warming. I was shocked and delighted to learn that number six on the list is educating girls. It is something… Read more »
by Kristopher Coulston Illness and family emergencies are typically the cause for school absence in developed countries. Unfortunately, this is not the situation in drought-stricken countries, such as Niger. Water is scarce and girls spend hours walking miles just to satisfy their desperate need for it, even if the water sources they are gathering from… Read more »
by Shelton Owen As I soak up the bittersweet last moments of my senior year of high school, I sense my departure for college inching closer. The school year has been packed with applications, scholarship essays, and an abundance of rigorous preparations for the next chapter of my educational career. It wasn’t until recently, when… Read more »
by Michelle Wolf It happens every month and every month I forget to grab a few tampons from under the bathroom sink. Thankfully, there is a gold basket in the ladies’ room at work with a few sample packs for me to use. And I can always find an ample supply of tampons in one… Read more »
On the front page of Saturday’s Los Angeles Times was this: “Former students in Nigeria hunt down teachers.” Just across the border from Niger, West Africa, where Wells Bring Hope drills wells is northern Nigeria. It is the place where Boko Haram has been waging a vicious campaign against innocent people, focused on eliminating secular education, especially for girls.
As another school year starts up, I find myself slowly but surely falling back into the familiar routine that occupies August through May. This routine usually involves me groggily rolling out of bed after pressing snooze a few times on the alarm clock, attempting to make it to every possible sporting or social event, and staying up late to cram for a killer math test. As most privileged American teenagers, I sometimes think of school as a hassle rather than a blessing, as a requirement rather than an opportunity. The truth is, I get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of my own little microscopic world that I, mistakenly, block out the 7 billion people sharing this Earth with me.
Just a pinch of sound logic is enough to realize that denying educational opportunities, justice, and equal rights to women oppresses approximately half of the world’s population. The oppression of women misuses the scarce resource that is human brainpower and vastly inhibits the possibility of prosperity for many developing nations. It’s an equation that does not add up. On the noble quest to end global poverty, we are casting aside the very individuals that experience it and could be empowered to contribute meaningfully to the solution.