10 22 2014
  2:38 am  
     •     
McMenamins

Dear Girls of the World,

First of all I have to say: Congratulations! We have all come a long way from once being mistakenly called the inferior sex. I remember the first time I read Aristotle's view that a female is an incomplete male, "or as it were, a deformity." I was really offended and furious. The first thing that popped in my mind was, "We have to prove all our detractors wrong." But we definitely can't do that with 60 million of our girls out of school! So yes, we have come a long way, but we are still not there yet.

A wise friend recently told me: No child in the developing world has died directly due to the lack of education. They die due to illness, during childbirth, due to violence, poverty, etc. -- which is probably why the world hasn't yet understood the gravity of having more than 100 million children not in primary school, of which 60 million are girls.

If you really think hard, you will realize that the way to end the cycle of poverty, reduce the number of teenage pregnancies and early marriage and many other ills that befall our girls is through education. An educated girl will marry later, will have fewer and healthier children, will educate her daughters and without a doubt her sons, will be self-sufficient and, most importantly, will have a voice. She will not only dream but also realize her dreams of becoming whoever she wants to be.

I am writing this letter to all of you girls, but especially appealing to those who have had the privilege of going to school. We need to use our educated voices to raise awareness in our families, communities, countries and the world and say we cannot and will not ignore our sisters anymore. They have the same rights as we do, and there can be no discrimination. We can and must hold our governments accountable and ask them to give us the answers and results we deserve.

I am also writing this letter to all the boys -- fathers, brothers and husbands, friends who have supported us. I am grateful that you see us as just as important to the human race as our male counterparts. Your support and belief in us keeps us encouraged to keep powering on. Please keep it coming and please spread the word.

Finally, I write to those we want to affect with our voices positively: You have the right to an education. You have the right to grow up healthy, in safety, and with equal access to opportunity. I, and millions of your supporters across the globe, stand with you in the pursuit of equality. Change is coming; the world is listening.

I know that this movement -- your movement -- will grow in influence and scope. My promise to you: I will continue to use my voice as your voice. Together, we can ensure that girls everywhere can go to school and stay in school.

You hold our future in your hands. I believe in you.

With love and hope,

Freida Pinto

 

Actress Freida Pinto is known for her roles in movies such as "Slumdog Millionaire" and her work with Plan International. This open letter to the girls of the world is part of the "Girl Rising" project. CNN Films' "Girl Rising" documents extraordinary girls and the power of education to change the world. Watch it at 9 p.m. ET Sunday June 16 on CNN.

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