How We Can Change The World

Somewhere along the way I missed the original memo. I didn't know that today was the day to blog for the Girl Effect. And yet, I spent all last night thinking about the ways that we change the world by sharing our stories.

I grew up in poverty -- Poverty by American standards. This, as I have come to understand, is NOTHING compared to global poverty. So I often don't identify as coming from poverty. It feels like I'm cheating 50 million girls from their experiences.

And yet, when I write my stories, when I tell the truth about my childhood and the experiences I had, I must be honest about not having much. Because in America, not having enough is poverty. And there are thousands of young girls living in poverty in the United States.

My perspective as a writer is that I write what I know. And I know poverty and young women in America. So far. As a writer, I tell this story. I share pieces of it in essays and poems. I acknowledge my experience and that of young women growing up around me. I tell my story, and the stories I heard as a child, so that other young women can make different choices for their own lives here in America.

But what about the millions of girls living in poverty across the globe?

I believe it is our task as writers to learn and share the stories of girls around the world. I know it is part of my path to travel and gather these stories, like leaves falling in Autumn, to press between the pages of memory and knowing. I, as a storyteller, catch these stories in dreams and ink and the monochrome film of old cameras. I then have the honor of sharing them with you.

And you can share them, too. I believe it is the gift we each bring to our lives, the sharing of our stories with the world. We can never know whose life we will touch when we tell our story. It may be in a year, or five years, or one hundred years. We may never meet her, or see her face. She may be our sister, our daughter, our wife.

It is up to us, as the grown women of this world, to show the girls of the next generations that there IS a different way, that staying in school is worth the time away from working, that not getting married at 12 (or 9 or 7) CAN be okay with the grown-ups, that each of us is on the only person who can truly tell our story. I can write about girls in India, but I cannot BE that girl in India. I cannot share the emotion and depth of experience she can.

And so I ask you, find the courage to tell your story. Support organizations sharing the stories of girls across the globe.

And most importantly:

LISTEN.