By Elizabeth Usovicz, Rotary International director for Zones 30&31, USA
October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child. Along with the United Nations, today is a day for Rotary members to support and celebrate the girls of our world by participating in Rotary International’s Empowering Girls initiative.
As the leader of a Vocational Training Team for a Rotary Foundation grant project, my team and I worked alongside teachers in Malawi to develop and deliver an after-school program in village primary schools. The program empowers children, especially girls, to stay in school.
During that grant project, a girl who was an AIDS orphan asked me what my profession was. I told her I was a businesswoman. Her beautiful smile demonstrated why Malawi is called “the warm heart of Africa.” She softly said, “That’s what I want to be. A businesswoman.” Her response inspired and humbled me.
Why Empower Girls?
Girls face many challenges across the world, including lack of education attainment and lack of sanitary facilities in schools. Barriers such as child marriage, pregnancy, domestic violence and abuse prevent smart, determined girls from staying in school. Educating and supporting the girls of our world can help lift families, communities, and entire countries out of poverty.
Rotary’s Empowering Girls Initiative
Rotary’s Empowering Girls initiative is a club-level service opportunity for Rotary year 2021-2022. The initiative encourages Rotary and Rotaract club members to participate in service projects that focus on the health, education, safety, well-being and economic development of girls worldwide. The project you choose can be a new project for your club, or an existing project that is implemented with a focus on girls.
For example, your club may choose to offer scholarships, financial literacy training or other skills development through a school or not-for-profit organization in your community. Clubs can also choose to partner with other clubs across the world to implement a project, such as providing schools in rural areas with bathroom facilities for girls, or providing books, supplies or technology.
How Can Your Club Participate?
Encourage your club to identify and implement a project that empowers girls. Promote your project in your community, and in the Empowering Girls Campaign on Rotary Showcase. You can also contact your district to connect with the Empowering Girls Ambassadors in your region.The Ambassadors can help you with project ideas, resources, support and promotion for your project.
Together, we can empower girls to create positive and lasting change across the globe, in their communities, and in themselves. The girls of the world are waiting for us, and International Day of the Girl Child is an ideal day to begin.
Empowering Girls Initiative resources are available on the Presidential Initiatives page.
Elizabeth Usovicz is Rotary International Director from Zones 30 and 31, USA. She chairs Rotary International’s Empowering Girls Initiative Task Force.