Empowering girls and women will achieve an end to extreme poverty

This week I watched, oh, so painfully, the PBS documentary Half the Sky and it was an awakening to a way of changing our world. I have no way of truly imagining the horror and the incredible bravery of those in the world who daily give their hearts to empower the most poor – girls, young women and women.

I’ve included both parts of the documentary for you to view and they will only be available online until October 8th. Even watching part of them will begin a dialogue that, before this, the words were spoken, but, after this, the images force it into the light.

Underneath the episodes is a copy of an email that comes to me from the elders. They are a force that is working to create a peaceful, humane world. They include people such as Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Ela Bhat – elders who have used their lives to change the world for the better. And, at times, speaking about world events that we don’t necessarily want to ‘see’, but they knew needed to be brought forward. I’ve been on their email list for a couple of years, they don’t email much but each time I am reminded of the work they are doing in the world.

It’s so difficult to look at the dark places of the world, but, within that is the seeds of change. Opening discussion will lead all of us to learn what can we do, each in our own way.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity- EP 1

Watch Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity- EP 1 on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity- EP 2

Watch Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity- EP 2 on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

 
About the Elders

Dear friends,
2015 is the target date for achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals. We are only three years away.

We have made fantastic progress on some MDGs, which is a testament to what we can do when we set ourselves specific targets and work together towards common goals. But we are a long way from achieving others – especially when it comes to getting more girls in school and reducing maternal mortality.

The UN and others are starting to plan what comes next, after the MDGs. One of the most important lessons we have learned is that we must focus much more on adolescent girls in our development efforts. When we empower girls and women, achieving our other goals – equality, education, child health, maternal health, an end to extreme poverty, tackling HIV/AIDS – becomes possible.

Girls can become powerful changemakers for the world

Next week, on 11 October, we will celebrate the first-ever International Day of the Girl. This has come not a moment too soon. The girl child – ignored by the world for so long – is finally getting the recognition she deserves.

Video thumbnail

VIDEO: “International Day of the Girl:
fulfil girls’ potential; end child marriage”

Child marriage is probably the greatest single challenge to empowering girls worldwide, but here too we are seeing remarkable signs of progress, as Archbishop Tutu and I wrote last month. After Madiba and I met Hillary Clinton during her recent visit to South Africa, I was particularly heartened by her statement affirming the United States’ commitment to ending this harmful practice.

Momentum is building in the global movement to end child marriage. I hope you will join us on the Day of the Girl and find out how you too can be a part of it.

Best wishes,

Graça Machel

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