Monday, October 11, was the International Day of the Girl.
I've been writing and researching about climate change and its impact on mental health for the past two years. According to Project Drawdown, the education of girls internationally is one of the top ten climate change solutions. Unlocking girls' creativity through education can create more innovation and build a better future. Of course it's also the right thing to do.
I have two little girls of my own, but they're taller than I am now. I'm constantly reminding them that education lights the path forward. One of their great-grandmas took eight years to get her undergraduate degree because she was a young adult during the depression. She taught in a one room school house during the school year, then went to college in the summers. Another great-grandma left high school to have a family. She went back to get her high school equivalency when she was in her forties.
Education means self-determination. Although it should be a right, it isn't for so many young women around the world. We can do better. Groups like the Malala Fund work to provide opportunities for girls education around the world.
This week also got me thinking:
What would I say to this little girl pictured above? What would I tell four-year-old me? What would she say to me?
I'd tell her to be kind to herself and to know that's she's powerful beyond her wildest dreams.
I think she'd squeeze my hand, giggle, and then tell me to look at the pretty sunset, dig my toes into the white sand, and listen to the waves. Then she'd twirl and dance. She liked to dance a lot.
We need to show Generation Z that change is possible. The fact that Presidential Biden issued a proclamation declaring Indigenous People's Day and that we celebrated "National Coming Out Day" this week demonstrates that progress is happening in real time. Moments of national recognition that seemed so far away when I was a little girl are part of our culture now. The momentum for equality, justice, and diversity is strong and gaining.
Talking to Generation Z about the social changes we've witnessed, can give them hope. A recent survey showed that more than 50% of young people (16-25) say they experience climate anxiety, a deep concern about the future. By listening to their concerns but also sharing the positive social changes we've experienced, they can see that meaningful climate action is attainable.
We can create an intergenerational partnership to form a brighter, regenerative clean energy future, but it will take all of our best thinking and a commitment to education and equality. While lobbying for and fighting for global climate action, we can also celebrate the simple of joy of things like looking a pretty sunset, playing in the sand, and listening to ocean waves. We owe to to the little ones we used to be and the children of the future.
Learn more about how you can get involved at www.onegreenthing.org.