Category Archives: the girl effect

live well, PowerGirl!

I’ve lived in New York City (NYC) at various points in my life, and I now consider it to be one of places I go to when I need to press the reset button; to recalibrate my dreams, desires, and my connection to the ground. It’s the place I most feel in my body and in relation to other people. It’s the place where I get out of my head and out of my own singular experience and into a global conversation. It’s where culture, entertainment, and surprise are in the corridor of your apartment building, Broadway, the Central Park Zoo, the subway, and in all the art galleries simultaneously.  (And it’s the one place in my life where people know how to walk: not super slow or three in a row.) For these reasons and many, many, many more we have chosen to have thinkpeace camp 2014 in NYC (SURPRISE!!!)

NYC is filled with thousands of tourist t-shirt shops; every corner stacked high with ‘I LOVE NY’ and subway map t-shirts. However, on my last trip I saw a seemingly surprising t-shirt that said ‘GO LOVE YOUR OWN CITY.’ Now reasonably harsh, as New Yorkers are very protective of their city, I was still shocked. And yet, its bluntness made sense; it was encouraging the radical action of loving the places where we are. What if instead of lusting or dreaming about places we’ve been or want to go we loved into the nooks, crannies, and sweet spots of our lives?  What if we loved the guy who makes us sushi at the corner market, the security guard in our building, the bus driver, and the pharmacist who calls to make sure you have all of your prescriptions; what if for one moment we lived well into the places where we physically are?



That line from Eloise at Christmastime accurately describes how I feel about Christmas. I seriously love Christmas! It’s one of two places that I shine the most; camp being the other one. It’s the thing that makes my heart oh-so-happy. I talk, think, and plan Christmas the other 364 days of the year! I love the anticipation of Christmas, the music, decorations, snow, sweet treats, making gingerbread houses, trekking to the Christmas tree farm, Santa Hats, yummy smelling candles, planning the flavor of Christmas morning pancakes, thinking of the best possible gift for each person, and of course Christmas morning. A few weeks ago papa g (my dad) said “GARMIN (actually, he used my given name), you are just as excited about Christmas at 22 years old as you were at 6 years old.”

I acknowledge that the western idea of Christmas is not universal. I spent one Christmas in Hong Kong, a predominately Buddhist country. And yet, I think that living well into our places is brought to the forefront in the intricacies of Christmastime.

Here at thinkpeace we talk a lot about being the best global girls and stewards of our resources, talents, and ideas as we can be, and I truly believe it starts at home. It starts in the small places. In the act of holding the door, saying hi to the mailperson, making cookies for friends, and living from a place of gratitude. It starts with initiating a conversation with the person sitting next to us at the coffee shop as we cram our last papers of the semester out, it starts with mailing a letter to our friends and families, and it starts with the acknowledgement of our feet physically on the ground and breathing deep loving breaths– it starts with you PowerGirl. You want to change the world?! It starts with you, with you living well into the places where you are.

say ‘YES’ to the gunk


I am more than enough!

Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it hits you with a ton of bricks, or a constant tree-blowing-in-a-hurricane-smack. Sometimes it’s yucky, complicated, intense, fall-into-a-vat-of-molasses-not-good. Sometimes it pushes us to our edge and then lets us fall down the cliff.
And then we have to move through. It doesn’t matter the content of the gunk, it could be anything from your dog died to your best friend’s girlfriend cheated on her to you got bad results back from the doctor. Regardless of the content, we are the ones that give meaning to them. They either change us and propel us forward, or they break us. Both are valid responses. And yet, we have to keep going and trudging through the gunk to get to the green grass. It’s in the gunk that we find what we are truly capable. It’s where we find our inner PowerGirl putting on her mud boots, rain jacket, and stuffing her pockets with snacks for the journey. It’s where we find ourselves. It’s where we learn to stay with the discomfort.
Learning to ‘stay’ is not a skill I excel at. I haven’t lived in the same place for more than 18 months since I was 13. Why? I freak myself out. Things get hard and I freak. I book a plane ticket somewhere and peace out. I run because I haven’t figured out how to stay with the not-so-fun feelings. And yet, wherever I go, I find myself there again. All the things I ran from end up following me– just taking a different shape. You would think that after thousands of frequent flyer miles I would have figured this out. I would have figured out that the person I’m running from is there in the whole journey.
And so, with that, I’m clearly not the one to take advice from in the area of ‘learning to stay.’ However, I do get the gunk and the yuckiness and the trudging through. I get that.
The answer of learning how to ‘stay,’ leaning into the discomfort, and trusting that tomorrow is going to be better than today is not a straight forward one. There are no easy answers. As much as I wish I could say, “Hey, take this pill, eat this thing, say this, and do this and you’ll be cured” I’m glad that I can’t. Looking back on the crap that I’ve been through in the past is what often what encourages me to move forward. It’s where I find a tiny spark of mojo, and grit.
In addition to looking back in order to look forward, I look to my people: my middle-of-the-night-know-my-darkest-fears-and-still-love-me-people. I say “Hey, I don’t know. This is hard. Can you help me? Will you encourage me to be the best me and go through the gunk?” I have yet to be met with a “no.” In fact, quite the contrary, the response is usually, “YES. I’ll stand with you. Let’s brainstorm how to ‘stay’ and own the feelings.” My people often remind me to go back to my core, to fall into the things that make me and make my heart happy. They tell me to go to yoga, to go paint in the studio, to go drink a second cup of coffee, to listen to new music, and to watch re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy.
It’s all a process. It’s a one-step-at-a-time-one-breath-at-a-time-moving-through kind of process. It’s a knowing that things will get better, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but they will get better. It’s about trusting in the process and that the universe is conspiring for your good. It’s a steadfast will for pushing for more. And in the end there will be more sunshine, more laughing, more joy, and more dance parties.
And so my dear PowerGirl, lean into the discomfort, lean in. Say “YES” to the gunk.

on women and poverty

live below the line


Can you live on less that $1.50 a day?

1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day for all their needs. Women make up half the population of the world and 70% of the world’s poor. They are discriminated against in terms of education, opportunity and health care. They work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half the world’s food, but earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property.  It’s vitally important that we work together and address women’s poverty and inequality.

What can we do?

Educate girls.

50 million of the 72 million children currently not enrolled in school are girls. Two thirds of the nearly 800 million adults who lack basic literacy skills are women. The impact of educating girls is tremendous. It enables women to have a greater effect on reducing poverty in their communities as, within most communities, women are responsible for providing food, health care and education of their families.

The economic benefits of educating girls are:

•    educated girls have fewer children
•    educated girls are better able to care for their children
•    educated girls have better access to health care and information
•    educated girls practice safer sex
•    educated girls have better access to jobs
•    educated girls are more likely to send their children to school.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated:

“there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health – including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful  in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.”

When women are supported with resources and political commitment, real change will happen. We believe it all starts with a girl!

Raising awareness of the need for universal education is a step we can take simply by using our voices. Let yours be heard! Another way is by publicly making a commitment to understand what it feels like to ‘live below the line’. The World Bank has defined the poverty line as living on less than $1.50 a day. What better way to understand extreme poverty than by spending just a few days living below the line.  From April 29-May 3 join us as we take the challenge to live below the line, feeding ourselves on less than $1.50 a day.

1.4 billion people on this planet have to make that $1.50 cover a lot more than food, but the Global Poverty Project and it’s partners are asking you to take this challenge as a means of really understanding the difficulties that too many people around the world face on a daily basis.

HOW DOES IT WORK? The Global Poverty Project’s Live Below the Line Challenge:

So you want to Live Below the Line, but you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into. Ok, here are the basics:

From April 29th to May 3rd, you can spend no more than $1.50 a day on food and drink.

This means you have a total of $7.50 with which to buy all ingredients for your meals.

The full cost of all the items you consume must be included in your budget. This means budgeting for whole packages of food such as rice, pasta, noodles and eggs etc.

For items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices, simply work out the cost of each item per ounce and budget your shopping proportionally. Separate your items before the challenge so there’s no need to be digging around in your pantry.

One of the easiest ways to partake in the challenge is to share the cost of ingredients amongst a team, as long as no participant spends more than $1.50 a day or their total $7.50 budget. Working as a team will allow you to pool together funds and do more with your cooking.

You can’t grab a snack from the pantry unless you include the cost of buying the item new in your budget.

You can use food sourced from your garden as long as you can account for the price of production.

No combination of meals on any given day can exceed the $1.50 spending limit.

Remember this is a challenge to eat creatively – don’t at any point deprive yourself of three meals a day.

You cannot accept ‘donated’ food from family or friends!

You are allowed to drink tap water – remember you should try and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day.

Are you up for the challenge?  Between now and Monday check our facebook page ( for recipes and support! We’re along for the ride with you. Bono said, “I can’t change the world. But I can change the world in me.” All it takes is some awareness and compassion. Imagine.

awareness + voice + action = change


bearing witness

we care

On this last day of Genocide Awareness month, we are reflecting.  It’s been a busy month for thinkpeace girls as they worked hard to raise awareness and funds with StudentsRebuild and One Million Bones for CARE.  We made bones at our club meetings, at school, at a mother/daughter event, in our neighborhoods and at a community event.  With every bone a dollar was raised to go towards the efforts of CARE to help victims and survivors of displacement in the Sudan, Burma, Somalia and the DRC.  Through the efforts of thinkpeace girls we’ve contributed about $1000.  More importantly, we’ve learned about the ongoing atrocities in these countries and have raised awareness among our families, friends, and in our communities.  Most importantly, we have felt the responsibility to bear witness and take a stand for peace.  One girl, one voice, one bone… matters.

Last week we listened as Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace prize winner Elie Wiesel introduced President Obama (at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum) with this hard question:  “Given the possibilities of power and the suffering of children… what is it about the human psyche that can allow humans to become inhuman?”  To which the President responded with “We all love, hope and dream.  How can this have happened? We must teach our children that awareness without action changes nothing.”  He went on to discuss the need to mobilize peoples’ consciences.  This past month, thinkpeace workshops have focused our efforts on trying to do just that.  We’ve talked a lot about how humans become inhuman, enough to murder people they once thought of as friends or worse, who were their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.  We know that when the flames of fear are fanned, people react.  We know that when babies are hungry and there is no hope of a cup of grain in sight, people react.  We know that when dynamic leaders make promises of a better future, people react.  We are wired to protect ourselves and our children, but at what cost?  What is the solution?

If we believe in the fundamental right to live in peace then we must not turn our backs to the suffering that continues today around the world.  Together we can raise our voices and say, “Never again!”  And then, the hard work begins.  We have to know what’s happening in the world and connect our voices with those of the people in Sudan, Burma, Somalia, the DRC, Afghanistan, Cambodia and elsewhere who are saying, “Hear us!”  Together we can calm fears through education and safety measures within communities.  Together we can create sustainable living so that no one is hungry.  Together we can learn to listen and share, creating dialogue between all people.  What connects us all is our humanity.  No matter where we live or how well we live, we are all connected.  President Obama said, “Preventing genocide and atrocities are at the core of our National security and are in the moral interest of the United States.”  We have to do everything we can to prevent genocide and to help those who have suffered.

We must bear witness.  Which means that we will take a stand.  thinkpeace girls have been making bones as a part of a national art statement illustrating the deaths and destruction of genocide.  At our state installation in New York, we laced the pathway of bones with sprigs of baby’s breath, signifying a breath of hope– that a new generation will not know this kind of suffering firsthand.  Elie Wiesel said, “Memory is our sacred duty.”  Let’s hope that generations to come will only know the memories.  Let’s work together to ensure that.  Let’s bear witness.  Let’s use our voices, our hands, our brains, and our hearts to heal the world.

We want to share with you a poem that a friend and peacebuilder wrote specifically for thinkpeace girls to recite on the National Day of Action.  From New York to California, these words were spoken and felt, deep in our bones and in our hearts:

Prayers for Peace                                                                                                                  by Ann Keeler Evans, M.Div. ©2012

I.  When I said that I would work for Peace                                                                             It seemed as if it were                                                                                                          The natural place                                                                                                                   To go to work.                                                                                                                           I believe in Peace… it’s the right thing to do.

There was so much I learned                                                                                                As I started this journey —                                                                                                  That although the precepts behind Peace                                                                           Are so very simple                                                                                                               The work of Peace can be quite complicated.

And was I naïve to believe                                                                                                  That everyone wanted Peace?                                                                                       Maybe I was…                                                                                                                   There certainly seem to be many                                                                                   Grown-ups                                                                                                                   Working against it…

Okay…                                                                                                                                      I may not know                                                                                                                   How Peace will work everywhere                                                                                        But I can be part of how it starts.                                                                                          It’s not a lot, but it’s a step                                                                                                        I can take for Peace.

I will accept Peace as my goal                                                                                            And I will bear witness                                                                                                           Both when it works                                                                                                             And when it doesn’t.

I will bear witness…

II.  When I said that I would work for Peace                                                                      What I didn’t understand                                                                                                   Was that all the world didn’t value                                                                                    Each and every girl.                                                                                                                  I believe in Peace… it’s the right thing to do.

It makes me mad when I think                                                                                            That some people don’t think                                                                                            Girls should go to school                                                                                                       Or grow up and get a job                                                                                                      Or become an astronaut                                                                                                       Or a President                                                                                                                       Or a Peacemaker.

It frightens me when I hear                                                                                                       That girls                                                                                                                                   Just like me                                                                                                                           Are being hurt                                                                                                                      And bought and sold.                                                                                                         Why don’t people know                                                                                                     How precious they are?                                                                                                     Why don’t they care?

I will not stand in silence.                                                                                                          I will help to make them visible                                                                                                 I will learn at least one girl’s name                                                                                      And what is important to her.                                                                                                It’s not a lot, but it’s a step                                                                                                        I can take for Peace.

I will accept Peace as my goal                                                                                            And I will bear witness                                                                                                       Both when it works                                                                                                             And when it doesn’t.

I will bear witness…                                                                                                                1. I will bear witness…

III.  When I said I would work for Peace                                                                                    I believed that the world                                                                                               Wanted to live without war.                                                                                                      I believe in Peace… It’s the right thing to do.

And then I read about lives                                                                                              Being destroyed                                                                                                                  And houses and villages and countries                                                                           Being leveled                                                                                                               Because someone                                                                                                             Must win!

People are killing one another.                                                                                          They are torturing one another.                                                                                         They are hardening their hearts                                                                                     Against their neighbors.

It breaks my heart.                                                                                                                   It scares me.                                                                                                                             I don’t know what to do.                                                                                                      But I won’t sit around and do nothing.

I will speak out.                                                                                                                         I will put out petitions.                                                                                                               I will send supplies as I am able.                                                                                          It’s not a lot, but it’s a step                                                                                                        I can take for Peace.

I will accept Peace as my goal                                                                                            And I will bear witness                                                                                                       Both when it works                                                                                                             And when it doesn’t.

I will bear witness…                                                                                                                1.  I will bear witness.                                                                                                             2.  I will bear witness.

IV.  When I said that I would work for Peace                                                                            I didn’t realize that                                                                                                              Entire countries were invested                                                                                               In the failure of other countries                                                                                              To live in peace.                                                                                                                        I believe in Peace… It’s the right thing to do.

That war was as much or more                                                                                       About money                                                                                                                     Than it was about                                                                                                           Tribes.

That people depended upon                                                                                              Our not knowing that                                                                                                             So that they could                                                                                                       Continue to pursue their own needs.

Well, I’m going to learn about money.                                                                                  I’m going to learn about politics.                                                                                           I’m not going to be                                                                                                      Someone you catch in your swirl                                                                                           Of Lies.                                                                                                                                  It’s not a lot, but it’s a step                                                                                                        I can take for Peace.

I will accept Peace as my goal                                                                                            And I will bear witness                                                                                                       Both when it works                                                                                                             And when it doesn’t.

I will bear witness…                                                                                                                1.  I will bear witness                                                                                                              2.  I will bear witness                                                                                                              3.  I will bear witness

V.  When I said that I would work for Peace                                                                             I had no idea how unprepared I was.                                                                                   But now I’m learning what it is                                                                                                  I need to know.                                                                                                                   This much I do know:                                                                                                                I believe in Peace… it’s the right thing to do.

So I’m setting myself some goals.                                                                                    There is some part of peace about which                                                                                I will care passionately.                                                                                                         I’m going to learn all I can about it.                                                                                       I’m going to learn how I can impact it.                                                                                  I’m going to apply what I learn.                                                                                             I’m going to share what I learn.                                                                                             I’m going to find as many girls as I can                                                                      Wherever they are in the world                                                                                          Who also care about Peace.

There are skills that I have that not everyone has.                                                              The world needs my skills, so I’m going to develop them.                                                   I’m going to practice them.                                                                                                   I’m going to teach them to other people who need them.                                                  And then I’m going to put them to work in the service of Peace.

And in the meantime, I’ll keep growing up                                                                      Strong and Lovely                                                                                                                Full of art and play and laughter and friendships.                                                                 I’ll reach out to whoever wants to work for peace.                                                          These are the steps, I can take for Peace.                                                                         And they’re worth a lot to someone!

I will accept Peace as my goal                                                                                            And I will bear witness                                                                                                       Both when it works                                                                                                             And when it doesn’t.

I will bear witness…                                                                                                                1.  I will bear witness                                                                                                              2.  I will bear witness                                                                                                              3.  I will bear witness                                                                                                              4.  I will bear witness

VI:  When we said we wanted to work for Peace                                                                We didn’t realize how complicated it was.                                                                        Now that we know, we believe even more strongly                                                        Peace is the right thing to do.

We’re going to learn.                                                                                                       We’re going to make friends.                                                                                          We’re going to help.                                                                                                        We’re going to make a difference.                                                                                  We’re going to make a global village                                                                                     Of people who care again.

When things don’t work, we’ll try again.                                                                          When things are hard, we’ll encourage each other.                                                        When things are ugly, we won’t look away.                                                                     When things are wounding, we’ll care for one another.                                                  When things are needed, we’ll find a way to help.                                                             And when things are beautiful,                                                                                            We will dance and celebrate and share food                                                                    And Dreams                                                                                                                        And Wonder                                                                                                                        And Laughter.

And then we’ll get back to work.                                                                                     There will always be more work to do.                                                                            There will always be more connections to make.                                                            There will always be more truths to tell.                                                                           There will always be those who need us                                                                               To stand with them

                                                                                                                                             But you know what?

Peace…                                                                                                                                It’s our goal.                                                                                                                           It’s what we believe in.                                                                                                          It’s what we do.                                                                                                                     It’s how we live.

creating change


From Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize speech (1986)–

[A boy] asked his father: “Can this be true? This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?”

And now the boy is turning to me. “Tell me,” he asks, “what have you done with my future, what have you done with your life?” And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.”


Lately I’ve found myself explaining to people the latest thinkpeace focus:  the One Million Bones project.  The first reaction is one of total confusion.  “Bones?  Why are you making bones?”  When I talk about genocide, the expressions become ones of concern but also of only of distant recognition.  The fact is, most people I talk to have no idea that genocide has occurred in their lifetime.  Most believe that such atrocities have not happened since World War II.  If you ask most teenagers, they truly have no idea.   Yes, we know that wars have happened and still are… and we know that there is suffering in the world.  But genocide and displacement?  These concepts seem to go undiscussed at school and at the family dinner table.  The fact is, as a whole, we seem to have tuned out this news:  genocide and displacement are CURRENT events.

At our thinkGIRLUP monthly meetings, we’ve been discussing why these atrocities are still occurring, why world governments are not taking a stronger stand, why these issues are not talked about in social studies classes and more.  We talk about intolerance and acceptance.  From the school bus to the mall to our neighborhoods and communities and on into the world, intolerance is what creates conflict.  We talk about raising awareness and using the power of our voices and the creativity of our hands to enact change.  And we make bones.  Why bones?  The bones  are symbols of a couple of things.  First, we know this:  when you take away the things that make people different, the color of their skin, hair, eyes, their religious and cultural differences, etc., you see that we are all the same.  We are bones.  We all have the same ones, with the same shape, tone and texture.  We are one and the same.  Second, the bones signify the bodies of all those who have fallen victim to genocides around the world.  We have joined the One Million Bones campaign, in partnership with StudentsRebuild and CARE, to raise awareness and funds (for survivors and victims of ongoing displacement in Sudan, Burma, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) through art activism.  This is our way to spread our voices, combined with others, to create change, to insist on tolerance and to take a stand against genocide.

“It’s often too easy to feel that the problems of others who live far away in circumstances we cannot imagine are not ‘ours,’” said Leslie Thomas, curator and co-director of “Congo/Women” and the founding executive director of Art Works Projects. “But if we do our job right, the arts can help us come together and take that next step to support those with whom we share this earth.”  We are all connected on this planet, but so often we seem to forget our global brothers and sisters, making us accomplices to the crimes against humanity.  As a photographer, Marcus Bleasdale believes art is an empowering medium for activism. His photos  highlight the most extreme human rights abuses around the world.  He believes that “artists partnering with NGOs, advocacy groups, and individuals that lobby organizations and governments can learn about abuses, including sexualized violence used in conflict.”  The visual image goes a long way in illustrating the issues facing humanity.

Naomi Natale, founder of the One Million Bones project said, “is important to recognize that these atrocities are occurring today, and that intolerance is at the root of these conflicts. Equally important, however, is the message that there is hope for a better future, and through working together to learn about the mistake of intolerance and actively contributing to a collective movement, students can deal with genocide in a manner which allows them to be empowered.”  Students CAN learn.  Youth CAN be heard.  And collective action can make a real difference.

“At the end of the day, the job of all of us working in human rights is to let the story of individuals shine through our chosen mediums as storytellers,” said Leslie Thomas.  At thinkpeace workshop for girls, we believe the impact of one million bones being displayed on the National Mall in Washington, DC will open minds and hearts and get people talking… and ACTING.  thinkpeace girls are taking action.  They are talking to friends, neighbors, and family members, raising awareness and asking for action.  They are telling the stories of the victims and survivors with every bone they make, so that no one is forgotten.

“When we make something with our hands it changes the way we think; which changes the way we feel; which changes the way we act.” —Carl Wilkens

I do? Not.

Try to imagine for a moment…you are a 14 year old girl who hasn’t tasted life yet!  You’ve just begun to blossom.  You want an opportunity for an education.  You want to play.  You want to have a voice that is heard.  You want to be healthy and feel safe.  You want to be counted, literally.  But you aren’t.  You don’t have a birth certificate.  There is no record that you exist.  You rely solely on your family to make decisions that will impact the rest of your life.  You have no choice.

Your husband was chosen by the time you were 5.  You are lucky that you were able to stay with your family until you are 14.  But now, it’s your wedding day.  Your groom is 37.  You’ve never had a conversation.  He doesn’t know that you’re good at math or interested in medicine.  He doesn’t know that you like to read or paint or play an instrument.  He doesn’t know that you are already tired from all the work you do for your family every day.  He doesn’t realize that you are still a child.  This is normal.  This is life… in the developing world one in seven girls is married before the age of 15.

According to Girls Not Brides, “Child marriage is a global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. Child brides can be found in every region in the world, from the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to Europe.  Region by region, half of all the world’s child brides live in South Asia where 46% of girls are married before they reach 18. Child marriage rates are 66% in Bangladesh, 39% in Afghanistan and 47% in India – where the sheer size of the population, at over 1 billion, means that many millions of girls are affected. Every other region is affected too, from Sub-Saharan Africa, where the child marriage rate is 38% overall, to Latin America and the Caribbean, where the rate stands at 29% (UNICEF, 2011).”

Working to end child marriages means addressing major issues such as poverty, traditional values, gender roles, and security.  The solutions lie in empowering girls, educating communities and families, improving girls’ access to education, providing economic incentives and changing laws.  Child marriage violates girls’ fundamental human rights.  The time has come.  We must work together to put an end to this practice and protect girls around the world.  “We can end child marriage NOW.  Let girls be girls, not brides,” Desmond Tutu.

At a recent thinkpeace meeting girls learned about this practice and were deeply affected.  We have reached out to various organizations such as Girls Not Brides, Girl Up and to learn more and to become a part of the solution.  Thinkpeace girls played at getting married:  they fashioned wedding dresses out of crepe paper, had wedding cake, laughing with each other all the while.  But then they were shown photos of their “grooms” and were told they’d have a baby within a year.  The fun ended when reality hit.  There are tough issues to discuss surrounding child marriage but we know that together, we can make a difference.  Talking about it is just the beginning.

Imagine…you’re a 14 year old girl with a future.

The wedding photo




the solution: a girl

When I look at a girl I see the answer.  I see strength and courage, hope and intention.

In developing countries the facts are:

When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.

When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.

One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15.

One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.

When I look at a girl I see the solution.  I believe that education and self-esteem are at the root of it all.  For girls in developing countries, going to school isn’t just about getting an education.  It’s also an opportunity to be heard and valued and know that every girl matters.  An educated girl will be more involved in her community and able to help others. She will have more confidence and will contribute to the well being of her family.  She will be healthier, physically and emotionally, and this will have a ripple effect for generations to come.  For girls in developed countries, going to school is a privilege.  It’s also an opportunity to grow and experiment; to flourish. These girls are a part of the solution.

When a girl in a developing country reaches out across the universe to another girl with less opportunity she says, “I am with you.  You are not alone.”  By learning about their similarities and their differences they deepen their sense of global community.  A girl’s knowledge and understanding of herself and others develops as she interacts and shares. She will understand and value tolerance and respect for diversity only if she is exposed to it.  When I see a girl I see the solution.

The girl effect has made us dare.  We dare to see a girl follow her dreams and become who she was meant to be. We dare to reach across ethnic and cultural boundaries to support a girl’s right to ride a bicycle, keep bees as a source of income, and attend school safely and confidently.We are committed to teaching peace, one girl at a time.  We dare to help girls journey into themselves, find their voices, feelings, wants, fears, needs, strengths and weaknesses.  Through knowing themselves they’ll truly connect to their sisters around the globe and see what I see when I see a girl:  the solution is within each girl.

A strong, courageous, hopeful girl with the intention to change her world:  the solution 

Join us this week in a global blogfest for girls!  Share your feelings, issues, concerns and work with girls by posting to