Danai Gurira: Can You Read This? Half a Billion Women & Girls Can't.

Photo: Vince Talotta/Toronto Star/Getty Images.
In another version of my life, I might not be able to read this — let alone write it. I might not be allowed to act — let alone be an activist. My life today could be entirely different.
Today is International Day of the Girl; though it may seem hard to believe, there is actually a growing gender gap that fuels extreme poverty and adversely impacts girls and women — today and every day.
Roughly 130 million girls did not go to school today, 1,000 will be infected by HIV today, and 144 girls will die as a result of violence. Just today. And every day after that. We must fight to stop this from being our global reality. That’s why the ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign is so dear to my heart.
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This campaign is not about charity, it’s about justice and equality – lasting political change that can make the difference for millions of people. What I appreciate about it is the awareness it brings, and it helps nurture that awareness into activism. It also holds the world’s leaders accountable. The knowledge I have gained from this campaign, alongside my lifelong passion for girls and women’s issues is what caused me to start Love Our Girls, an awareness hub and a platform designed to celebrate those on the frontlines of these issues around the globe. On this, International Day of the Girl, I reflect on why I created it nearly three years ago. My premise is simply, surely, if we were to put love into action towards girls and women, these horrific disparities would cease to exist. If we held ourselves accountable, we could start to diminish these issues, collectively.
It doesn’t matter if you are from London, Lagos or Los Angeles, right now leaders all around the world are deciding what needs to be done to solve these problems, and they need to hear from you. With our resilience, optimism, and activism, it is within our power to make poverty – and sexism – history, and to ultimately ensure girls can achieve all that is in their hearts and in their capabilities. Sign up to be a part of the ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign, take the Pledge with Love Our Girls and commit to becoming aware, becoming a part of the fight for equality and sharing your awareness with others.
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One small act of love today can help bring about justice, and change.
Today isn’t just another "day". Today is an opportunity to get the message out; we are missing out on some of the world’s most valuable treasure. We can seize this incredible moment and make a difference.
Until the nearly half a billion women and girls who are unable to read this article can, we must keep up the pressure and continue the fight. Put love into action today. For our girls.
Danai Gurira is an award-winning playwright and actor.
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