the girl effect: the spirit that ends the cycle

This post is part of the girl effect blogging campaign organization by Tara Sophia Mohr.

I remember when I was twelve. My biggest challenges were finding a way to get more speed on my wicked fastball, faking my way through piano lessons, and fighting off the kind of classroom boredom that comes from never being challenged.

When I was twelve, I learned I could skip 6th grade and move right on to junior high.

When I was twelve, I wanted to be a microbiologist.

When I was twelve, I read like a fiend, played 2 sports, and practiced show tunes on my trombone.

When I was twelve, my family didn’t have much money but I had more opportunities that I knew what to do with.

I was in control of my own future. I knew I could change the world.

Not for most…

But for most girls around the world, being twelve means letting go of dreams. Being twelve means getting married sooner than later. Getting pregnant shortly thereafter.

Being exposed to HIV.

Having to sell her body to care for her children.

How quickly dreams can turn into nightmares.

The spirit that changes the world…

When I was twelve, the entrepreneurial spirit – that drive that always has us scratching & struggling to maintain complete control of our future – was already well entrenched into my psyche. My mom was an entrepreneur. My grandfather. My grandmother. The formation of my ambition was merely another turn of the cycle.

Most girls do not have those role models. The cycle that most girls experience is that of poverty, disease, and hunger.

Still, girls all over the world break this cycle. Some do it out of shear will, others out of the most meager education, still others are guided by benevolent souls that reach out from a comfortable world and into the discomfort of others.

These girls find their own entrepreneurial spirit.

I believe that, deep down, we all possess a drive for self-determination, self-actualization. On some level, we all want to make decisions for ourselves and chart the course of our own life’s journey. Some of us, even in the first world, have that spirit beaten down into hiding.

Others find their entrepreneurial spirit regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in.

When girls are given the chance to create their own future instead of becoming a cog in a broken machine, they create a new cycle. That cycle is the girl effect. The girl effect isn’t just about creating beautiful inside-and-out women, it’s about enacting change throughout communities.

The entrepreneurial spirit touches more than just one life…

A girl who finds her entrepreneurial spirit creates a community with ambition & energy.

When I was twelve, I dreamed of changing the world by discovering a scientific breakthrough or writing a life changing book.

When a twelve year old girl in a developing country dreams of changing the world, she dreams of building a school in her village, founding a hospital in her province, or bringing fresh water to her family.

That girl will have a greater impact on individual lives than I can hope to achieve. And I’m okay with that.

It’s the girl effect.

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How can you help?

Write a post on your own blog, share the girl effect on your favorite social network, or make a donation. And don’t forget to discuss the girl effect with your own daughter, niece, cousin, or sister. Raising women who understand the weight of their own opportunities goes a long way to create a generation fully engaged in ending this cycle.

One other way to help: book a brainstorming session with me and I will donate 30% of the cost to Be!, a project empowering young girls to become entrepreneurs in India. You’ll also receive an ebook of your choice from my library for free as a special thank you.

9 thoughts on “the girl effect: the spirit that ends the cycle

  1. Oh Tara you’ve done it again! You inspire me beyond words. When I was 12 my world was about to fall apart in many ways but I was safe. Books got me through the tough times, and I held onto my belief that I could be something in spite of teachers that wrote me off. The power of words in the right books and from the right people is the power to change the world. You are gifted with a large helping of that power! Thanks

  2. Hi Tara,

    I’ve been reading all over the internet about the Girl Effect. It feels like this has come to my attention just as I’m trying to find a cause that I want to “marry” my business to. I want to support a cause on an ongoing basis for the long term, not as a way to market my business, but as a way to give back and make a difference in a real way.

    this is so amazing, and to think about where I was at 12- coming out of being painfully shy, finding my creative voice through fashion and learning to be friends with boys. so trivial compared to girls all over the world.

    any thoughts on how to build a long term relationship between my business and projects such as these?

  3. I love the entrepreneurial take you have on this, because that’s absolutely the spirit that breaks the cycle whether here in New Zealand or in India.

    Thanks!

    Marianne

  4. When I was 12 I was scared. Abused by my father on pretty much a daily basis I started to contemplate suicide. My grandmother who we lived with suspected it but was too depressed and scared to act plus she was ill and often in hospital. My mother had left when I was a baby. And I grew up in Germany one of the most developed countries of the world.

    I am happy to support any organisation that empowers young girls and give them opportunity. However, I do feel that even us in the Western world do not have to look very far to give a young girl a helping hand, most of our communities could do with some of this (or a lot) spirit and action too.

    Over 40,000 girls in the UK under the age of 18 fall pregnant every year, some of them are as young as 12. One child out of every 10 lives in severe poverty here in the UK, sounds unbelievable but it is true. In fact the UK has the worst childhood poverty rate in the developed world. Most of those children are raised by lone parents having been abandoned by the other parent.

    I know that many people think it’s wrong to compare poverty in the Western world with poverty in the developing world but I don’t agree. Poverty, abuse, sexual exploitation is WRONG no matter where the child lives.

    As happy as I am to support the girl effect I just want to give pause for thought and maybe some of the effort everyone is pulling spreads into your own communities too and maybe you can make a difference to a child’s life on your doorstep.

  5. I want to respond to Mel’s comment, because I think she brings up a really good point about how much is going on in our own communities that we simply don’t consider.

    I know many of us making a living as creatives don’t have a huge incomes and I, for one, often feel guilty that I’m not giving money to support causes that I value. But Mel’s words have inspired me to consider that perhaps there’s something more valuable we can give than money, and that we don’t have to be sending this something off to the third world to make a difference.

    What we can give is our time, by getting involved in the community on a local level and providing support to whatever cause drives you. We all have the power of action. Even if we can’t put dollars behind it, we can touch people’s lives and ignite inspiration in others.

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