If women in the developing countries completed secondary education, 3 million children under the age of 5 would be saved every year.
This unfortunate statistic by the I.M.F. is just one the many plights young girls and women in general are facing in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Here are some more startling facts:
1) More than 115 million 6 to 12-year old children are not in school in the developing world; three-ﬁfths of them are girls.
2) When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
3) A woman with six or more years of education is more likely to seek prenatal care, assisted childbirth, and postnatal care, reducing the risk of maternal and child mortality and illness.
4) When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
5) Today, the U.S. invests in its future by spending about $6,800 a year per primary student on public education. In Iran the ﬁgure is $156 per student per year, in India $64, in Laos $30, and in Rwanda, $30.
6) An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
Young girls in developing nations have not been given the attention they highly deserve in education. Yet they have the undeniable power to help uplift their communities out of poverty through education and the earning power it will generate.
Through fashion, art, and socially responsible actions, we’ve designed a way to get involved. Le Dessein is a fashion line aimed at funding the education of underprivileged girls around the world by featuring their designs on our fashion. We then contribute 25% of our proceeds to the girls’ yearly school tuition.
The nature of our effort is not just monetary – our ultimate vision is to create independence and freedom through the empowerment of our girls. A critical component of this whole vision being self esteem – we were adamant on making sure that our girls would be intimately tied to the creation of the designs which would end up on garments. The success of their artistic journey through their participation and engagement would create a profound sense of OWNERSHIP, which is essential in affecting one’s self-esteem. Indeed, we wanted to demark ourselves from the traditional form of aid towards developing countries, which has consisted mainly of charity, and instead have “ownership” be the driving factor in maintaining this self-sustaining endeavor.
Creating an impact in these young girls’ lives will take collective effort from various committed parties. Inculcating the notion of “Ownership” though noble, can be an arduous task and required collaboration. And we’ve had the fortune and pleasure of being aligned with the More Than Me Foundation – “The More Than Me Foundation is on a mission to make sure education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, define the lives of the most vulnerable girls from the West Point Slum of Liberia.” Its motto is: “When she graduates, she will decide what comes next for her life.”
Indeed, for our girls, this is about reclaiming and redefining their own sense of self. For far too long, girls and women from the developing world have been subjected to a strongly patriarchal society – a society where their “value” was unilaterally decided by men – So “Ownership” to us is simply the final destination defined by an effort that consists of arming our girls and presenting them with opportunities susceptible to make this journey a worthy one.
Our fashion linehiis elegant and sophisticated and aims at serving a market that for too long has had to sacrifice quality and design for purpose and mission.
Eric is the founder and CEO of Le Dessien. Eric grew up in Dakar, Senegal, where he was influenced by his mother's passion, drive, and fashion sense at a young age. His mother would eventually inspire him to start Le Dessein. He attended UCLA Business School and began his career in investment banking.