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How U.S. schools can help make a difference for girls’ education worldwide

By Therese Mageau, Editorial Director, eSchool News
December 9th, 2014

Two education industry veterans who have recently launched a new organization to empower young women and girls around the globe talk about how schools can get involved

girls-thinkingKathy Hurley and Deb deVries have spent their careers in education, first as special ed teachers, and then in educational publishing, where they retired this year from the Pearson Foundation and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, respectively. But before the dust could settle on their gold watches, the women started a new organization, Girls Thinking Global (GTG), whose ambitious goal is to create a global network of organizations that serve adolescent girls—to help the groups connect with one another and best leverage their resources to serve the needs, especially education needs, of young women worldwide.

On December 8, GTG had their official launch in New York City, where they aired a documentary highlighting the work of the Jungle Mamas, a Pachamama Alliance program that trains indigenous Achuar women and adolescents in the Ecuadorian Amazon to become birthing attendants. Hurley and deVries talked with eSchool News about their work, and why their organization’s mission is important to American schools.

eSN: What spurred you to create this organization?

Kathy Hurley: During my time in education, and especially over the last 10 years with Pearson and the Pearson Foundation, I’ve been fortunate enough to observe firsthand many educational systems around the world. One of the most consistent threads I encountered, especially in the developing and underdeveloped world, was that where girls were educated, they were more likely to be leaders in their community and seek opportunities that would allow them to be active contributors outside the home.

Deb deVries: There is data that shows that positively impacting the life of a girl has significant implications on the family, the community, and the local economy. A year ago when we both knew we would be retiring, we decided to talk seriously about starting a nonprofit focused on girls. We wanted to give back, make a difference, and continue to be involved in the industry. When Kathy was accepted into the Harvard Advanced Leadership Institute in 2014, she brought our outline of a program that would become Girls Thinking Global.

(Next page: Efforts to support girls’ education)