Winning the Lottery

by Allie on October 4, 2011

Cambodian Girl

Several years ago I dated a man who came from a privileged background. A statement he made has stuck with me through the years. It went something like this:

“If you look at all the people in the world, I’ve already won the lottery. I am a white male, born to an upper-middle class family in the United States. I’ve been educated at private schools and an Ivy League college. I was born into a life situation that is one of the most coveted in history. If I don’t make something of my opportunities, it’s my fault.”

While I am obviously not male, and my education was at public schools and universities (Go Bears!), his observation shifted my perspective and helped to realize something I sometimes forget:

I am damn lucky.

Girls born in a first world (developed) country have rights and opportunities many girls in developing countries do not:

  • We can read
  • We can get free education
  • We have access to birth control
  • As adults we can vote, own property and work outside the home

Girls born in developing countries face a less certain future. A few sobering statistics:

  • Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.
  • 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.
  • 38 percent marry before age 18.
  • A survey in India found that girls who married before age 18 were twice as likely to report being beaten, slapped, or threatened by their husbands as girls who married later.

Why am I bringing this up, you ask, as this blog is usually devoted to our travel adventures? We were fortunate to meet many girls and women on our travels, and want to help give them opportunities to better their lives.

This week kicks off the Girl Effect campaign, a movement to support adolescent girls in developing countries. When girls are supported, positive effects ripple out into their communities:

  • 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.
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
Nepalese Girls

New Nepalese friends

We – you and me – have already won the life situation lottery. Let’s spread the wealth. Watch this short video, and learn more about how to give to girls, and give future generations of girls a hand up and into a brighter future.

I invite and encourage  you to  write your own Girl Effect blog posts during the week of October 4-11 and  become an advocate for girls globally. Include your link on  this page so that your readers can see the other Girl Effect posts and add their own.

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lance October 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Being a white male who has grown up in the United States…I am damn lucky, too. And the thing is…do I realize (really and fully realize) that? Or, in the day to day of life, is it all too easy to look at the world from a place of scarcity (as opposed to abundance) – focusing too much on what “I” don’t have, and not seeing that there is enough for all of us…and there are so, so many more who have so little.

So, thank you. Thank you for writing this, and for being hope for girls from all walks of life…


2 Allie October 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Hi Lance,

I agree, it is very easy to get caught up in a scarcity mindset. I feel very fortunate to have seen so much, and to have traveled lightly. Travel helps put needs vs. wants in perspective, and to recognize how ridiculously fortunate we are, living in a country with – running water! 24 hour electricity! Health care! (well, that one needs some work). There is enough for all of us.

Thank you for visiting!

3 Rosastef December 22, 2011 at 4:44 am

This was an inspiring read. A few days ago I signed up to sponsor a young girl in Chile so that she can receive education, healthcare and have a family, through I was traveling last August in S-America, Chile in particular, with my husband and that is why I chose Chile. Reading your post I felt really blessed and lucky to be able to do that.

4 Allie December 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

Wonderful Rosa! Thank you for sharing. There are a lot of good organizations out there that are making a difference in girls’ lives. I am not familiar with SOS, but I’ll check them out.

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