Right now, there are around 63 million girls around the world who aren't enrolled in school. And, there are 496 million girls over the age of 15 who can't read or write.
But recently, nearly 300 girls from around the United States convened in D.C. to try to change these startling facts. These passionate advocates are part of the UN Foundation's Girl Up campaign, and they are determined to change the world. By engaging girls to take action, Girl Up is focused on changing policies and raising funds to help the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl. For three days, these young female leaders participated in leadership training, heard from influential speakers, engaged in skills-based workshops and led an official lobby day on Capitol Hill urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that prioritizes girls' education globally.
How does Caterpillar fit in?
The Caterpillar Foundation is focused on alleviating poverty. We know from experience that investments in programs that support women and girls have proven to yield the best results in putting communities on a path to prosperity. For example, when the number of girls attending school increases by 10 percent, gross domestic product (GDP) increases by three percent. An educated girl reinvests 90 percent of her income in her family. When the poverty level in a community rises, there's a need for things like infrastructure, hospitals and schools. And we all know, Caterpillar is about building a better world.
What about results?
Through the Foundation's support, Girl Up helped the Girls Count legislation become law last year, ensuring children in developing countries are registered at birth regardless of their gender. Girl Up also helped change the marriage age from 15 to 18 in Malawi. In many developing countries where this is an issue, without a birth certificate, you can't go to school or get a job...you essentially don't have a voice.
Global Government & Corporate Affairs Vice President Kathryn Karol spoke at the recent Girl Up Leadership Summit. Here are a few of the highlights she shared with the girls:
Sarah Jorgenson, Caterpillar Paving Products HR manager and Earthmoving talent development manager, attended the conference and had the opportunity to mentor many of the girls. "When I was first asked to attend this event to mentor these girls and share about our Women in Leadership journey at Caterpillar, I assumed that the program would be exciting and fun, but I could not have anticipated the personal growth I would experience. If these 300 inspiring female leaders are any indication of what the future holds, I assure you we are all in good hands!"
In addition, Caterpillar Additive Manufacturing Chief Engineer Stacey DelVecchio hosted a workshop titled #IlookLikeAnEngineer and shared some of her experiences working in the STEM field at Caterpillar. "There was such energy and insightful questions from the girls in my session. There's no doubt in my mind that Girl Up is creating some amazing leaders for the future. I look forward to hopefully having many of these impressive ladies join me in the exciting world of STEM careers."
View Kathryn Karol’s full talk here: http://livestream.com/unfoundation/2016girlupleadershipsummit/videos/130199147.
For more about the Caterpillar Foundation’s work, visit http://www.togetherstronger.com/.