The Power of a Girl


Why girls?

In developing communities around the world, girls have unique challenges in accessing education, staying healthy and breaking free of poverty—but they also provide hope for change more than any other group. In Free The Children’s work around the world, one thing transcends borders: the power of a girl to create positive change.

The lot of the girl child in developing countries.

  • Women and girls are typically responsible for food preparation, care of animals, care of the sick, crop irrigation, cleaning, washing and waste disposal
  • The daily chore of collecting water takes millions of girls out of the classroom, and after long hours spent walking with heavy loads, there is little energy left for study
  • About one in 10 school-age girls in Africa drop out once they reach puberty because they don’t have clean or private washrooms to use at school
  • In many places young girls are forced to leave school in order to enter into early marriage and pregnancy and bring income to their families

Free The Children’s support of women and girls.

  • Free The Children attaches water projects to each of the schools and schoolrooms we build. Not only are girls able to collect water on their way home from class, this ensures families are drinking clean water instead of contaminated river water.
  • Our alternative income and livelihood projects provide financial literacy training and empower women to sustainably contribute to family income, through bee keeping, animal husbandry, women’s circles and more.
  • Our mother-child health clinics provide girls and women with health care and health education, helping to reduce maternal and infant mortality and disability and to stop the spread of diseases.

Spotlight on Kenya

Our first all-girls secondary school, the Kisaruni Girls’ Secondary School allows young Maasai and Kipsigis women to continue their education beyond middle school, empowering them to create positive change within their communities and become role models and visionary leaders. Learn more.

Spotlight on Ecuador

Through Free The Children Girls’ Clubs, Ecuadorian girls come together for workshops on human rights, self esteem and leadership, sharing perspectives and ideas, building strong bonds with each other and working together on income-generating projects. Learn more.

Did you know?


Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls AIDS spreads twice as quickly among uneducated girls as among girls who have received even some schooling. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women. When a woman has at least a secondary education, her children are   twice as likely to survive as children born to less educated mothers. When women and girls earn income, they typically reinvest 90 percent of it into their families.

  • Free The Children’s We Day

Free The Children girls

At home.

Talia, Canada

When Talia was four years old, she learned about the living conditions of children in the developing world, she decided to raise money to help build a school in Africa. Talia held a day-long lemonade and cookie stand and asked her relatives for donations, managing to raise an amazing $648! She says she ‘feels good because now the kids can learn and make their life better.’ Talia is an incredible example of the idea that you’re never too young to make a difference.

Maryn, Canada

Maryn is an outstanding 10-year-old student from Calgary, Alberta, who is dedicated to making the world a better place. As a leader in her school’s Free The Children club, Maryn planned and carried out a school-wide Valentine’s Day campaign to raise funds and awareness in support of Adopt a Village. Not only did Maryn and her friends receive double the expected number of requests for valentines, they also recruited friends who weren’t in the club to help out. Maryn’s passion for positive social change led her to embark on a life-changing volunteer trip to Kenya with Me to We, where she saw first-hand the impacts of Free The Children projects on the ground.

Nelly Furtado, Canada

Nelly Furtado is passionate about girls’ education. As an ambassador of Free The Children, there is a special place in her heart for the girls of East Africa. Having travelled to Kenya and seen firsthand the life-changing effect that education has on girls in developing communities, Nelly launched a matching fund to support the construction of a new all girls’ high school in Kenya, called Oleleshwa. She will match every dollar donated towards Oleleshwa (up to $500,000) and, as a result, hundreds of students in Kenya will benefit from an education. Find out more on Nelly’s involvement here.

Shannon, Canada

Shannon Dowling, 15, has seen first-hand the power of education for girls. After learning about the global state of girls’ education, Shannon decided to take action. Shannon founded the Climb to Educate project, travelling to Kenya to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and visit Free The Children projects, and raised an incredible $25,000 for girls’ education! ‘I was amazed at how much the children look forward to going to school,’ says Shannon. ‘It is something that is not taken for granted like it is here. I believe education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.’

Kate, Canada

Fourteen-year-old Kate Ashwood was the 2011 Power of a Girl Initiative grand prize winner! Kate took action to mobilize her community in support of girls’ education, and after months of bake sales, speeches and fundraisers made an amazing contribution to Kisaruni, Free The Children’s all-girls secondary school in Kenya. ‘Too many girls are deprived of opportunities that could forever change their life,’ says Kate. ‘An education could give a girl infinite possibilities for the future. I truly hope that by helping to give these girls an opportunity to get an education, they can show that they also have the power of a girl!’ Following the contest, Kate travelled to Kisaruni to see the life-changing effect of her efforts first-hand. Read Kate’s inspiring trip journal here.

Around the world.


Williter, Kenya

Williter Chesang Kurget, 15, is a student at Kisaruni, Free The Children’s all-girls secondary school in Kenya. A brilliant student who loves choir and soccer, Williter spearheaded the creation of the Kisaruni girls’ song. Not only does she lead the choir, academically she is the strongest student in the school. When she grows up, Williter dreams of becoming an engineer. ‘When I leave Kisaruni,’ she says, ‘it will be better than when I found [it]; and when I leave, I will be better than when I came.

Ruth, Kenya

Ruth Chemutai, 16, is a one of the most outgoing girls at Kenya’s Kisaruni Girls’ Secondary School. She loves soccer, volunteering and learning about leadership. To Ruth, leadership means ‘leading others by teaching them what to do-leading by example.’ One day, Ruth hopes to become a pilot.

Sheila, Kenya

Sheila, 16, is a dynamic student at Kisaruni Girls’ Secondary School. She is a stellar athlete in volleyball and football, and is a natural leader she excels academically. If Sheila had one hope for the world, it would be to put an end to poverty. ‘No one,’ said Sheila, ‘should ever go without food.’ Her dream is to become a doctor so that she ‘can help those that are in need.