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International Women's Day May Be Over, But Here's How to Keep the Spirit Going

International Women's Day May Be Over, But Here's How to Keep the Spirit Going

Girl Rising, the new must-read from award-winning journalist Tanya Lee Stone, is amazing—but it's so much more than a book. It’s also a documentary, a global campaign for girls’ education and empowerment, and a call to arms. “Keep in mind that all of these stories are about girls just like you—girls with best friends and boyfriends, girls who like music or sports or just hanging out with their friends,” Tanya said when we caught up with her to hear how this inspiring project came about. “There is no such thing as ‘other girls’ from ‘other places.’ Remember that even though a lot of these places are far away and you can't necessarily imagine what life is like there, we are all connected to each other.” Wise words! Read more of them straight ahead.

Can you explain just how big an impact education has on a girl?
Educating girls has an exponential effect on families, communities, and nations. Educating girls is particularly important because it reduces the overall impact of obstacles to education. For example, a girl who stays in school is less likely to be married and have children when she is still a child herself. Also, when a girl is educated she will be able to get a better job and earn more money. And when the household income is in the hands of a woman, she is far more likely to invest in her family and local community than a man is. This boosts the economy and overall health of a nation.

What's something you learned in writing this book that's stuck with you?
I think about how incredibly connected we all are as global citizens and how important it is for us to help each other.

Can you tell us a little bit about working with the documentary's filmmakers, and how the book came about?
When I saw the film, I knew I wanted to expand the material into a book, really unpack the obstacles to education in a way that readers could sit with it and study them, and bring as many more girls' voices as I could to the table. I got in touch with the producers of the film and shared my ideas with Kayce Freed Jennings. I had a track record of writing books about empowering girls and women, so that certainly helped the filmmakers have a sense of what I could do. Soon, we were off and running.

It's easy to feel like we're powerless in making a difference when it comes to an issue as huge as girls' education. What are actionable things we can all do?
In the book, I give readers some great examples of things that other teens have done around the world, as well as how to tie your own interests and passions into activism. For example, if you like to write, you could write an op-ed piece for your local paper. If you are into cycling, you could raise money to buy a bike for a girl who isn't able to get to school without one. There are many things, large and small, that teens can do!

How'd you feel about education growing up?
Since I live in a country where education is free, I probably didn't understand its value as much as I might have if my family had to pay for it. But I liked school, and for me, reading was a huge part of my education. That's what helped open me up to the world.

You can watch the documentary (for free!) through Monday here, then snag a copy of the book here.

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