Guest Commentary by Lauren Mazurek
I, a girl in the 21st century, living in America, attending a private high school, have many opportunities — one of them being playing an abundance of sports. These activities include high school soccer, club soccer, cross country and basketball.
Some days when I am very tired I complain about running 3.1 miles (the distance of a cross country race). Sometimes I just want to sit down and not run at all. We all take things for granted or complain about taking on life’s small burdens, whether it’s taking out the trash or cleaning your room. These are First World problems! What I realize is 62 million girls around the world are not experiencing these problems.
What I realize is 62 million girls around the world are not in school and do not have the opportunity to be educated. For girls in east Africa, boys are 1 1/2 times more likely to complete secondary educations than girls. Girls have to walk 2-to-4 miles EACH DAY just to get water, a basic and life sustaining need.
Notice I did not say fresh water or clean water; this is because more often than not the water they are walking so long to get is quite unsanitary. Two-thirds of the world’s 880 million illiterate adults are women. An educated girl will have healthier children, earn a greater income and is more likely to send her own children to school and for every year of school completed, a woman’s lifetime earnings will be 10-20% higher.
The societal initiative “Her Best Foot Forward” is helping women and girls in east Africa to reach their full potential. How, you may ask? Permit me tell you: Her Best Foot Forward is an organization that contributes to the empowerment of women and girls in east Africa. The beautifully handcrafted local artisan sandal available for purchase is NOT a donation: it’s a purchase with a purpose!
Together purchaser and maker determine where the proceeds of the sandals go to, social ventures in east Africa. The Artisans who make these beautiful sandals receive a fair wage, clean water, health services and educational & entrepreneurial support!
These women are able to build financial strength and self-confidence. Whether the contributions go to helping to clean the water in Africa or to a girl’s education, the purchaser is helping the betterment of the world.
According to the African proverb, “If you educate a man you educate a person, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.” Hoping my persuasion can build a nation “Who are we? What do we run? The world!”
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Guest commentator Lauren Mazurek is “Ambassador” for Her Best Foot Forward, the non-profit organization serving girls in East Africa. She is a high school student at Visitation Academy in Greater St Louis, Missouri.
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About Her Best Foot Forward: The organization is focused on empowering women and girls through livelihood projects, education, and clean water. Information at: http://www.footforwardfund.org