When Dale Hanson Bourke thinks about changing the world, she thinks of one thing — girls! As a writer, and through her roles on the board of humanitarian organizations like World Vision and MAP International, she’s seen firsthand how important women are to the health of their communities. Her new book, Strong Girls, Strong World, outlines how we can change the world by supporting girls. It might seem like a strange place to focus our global humanitarian efforts. A friend of Dale’s, over coffee, actually pushed her to explain her thinking. Dale shares the story in her book, and what she told her friend. Dale writes, “There are many great organizations in the world investing in important work: clean water, access to health care, improving education, offering microloans. But in every case, it seems to me that girls are the ones who not only benefit the most from this work, but also time and time again, I see them giving back. They are the ones who so often come back to their homes after receiving an education and training.” Strong Girls, Strong World explains in clear and practical terms how investing in the growth of girls is the way to create a better world. There are many reasons why girls are at a specific disadvantage, and Dale acknowledges them in her book. But there are also so many ways that, as a global community, we can support girls. Dale puts it simply, saying, “Here’s something I had seen clearly: Strong girls make the world stronger. When we give them opportunities, they soar — and they take those around them along. Changing the circumstances for girls is one of the best ways to change the world.” At Medical Teams, we couldn’t agree more! That’s why Strong Girls, Strong World is our January pick for the Healthy Women, Healthy World book club. Join us in reading it! Medical Teams in Strong Girls, Strong World As she developed this new book, one of the people Dale reached out to was Medical Teams’ President and CEO, Martha Holley Newsome. Our work to improve the health of women and girls, using community-led solutions, fit very naturally into Strong Girls, Strong World. In fact, Martha was able to share with Dale an example of how we work with communities to find practical, innovative ways to help women and children from birth. She shares the practice of “kangaroo mother care,” where a new mother holds her newborn close to her body with skin-to-skin contact. For premature or underweight babies born in places without nearby hospitals, being held close to a mother’s body for a few hours every day helps them get stronger without incubators or other medical interventions. As Martha explains in the book, “This special hold reduces mortality rates for premature infants. It helps regulate a newborn’s temperature, breathing, and heart rate.” We know that in places where health infrastructure is lacking or nonexistent, solutions like this – that don’t require incubators, travel to a clinic, or extra resources – are the key to saving lives. Dale says of Medical Teams’ work, “Medical Teams International does amazing work, not only because they are experts in maternal and child health, but also because they are listeners. Their work reflects a profound respect for those they serve. Because of this, they can innovate in ways that truly make a difference in lives, not just in ways that sound good but don’t really change the reality for those living in resource-poor situations.” We’re proud to be included in this excellent book. And we’re grateful that our community cares so much about the health of girls, too. International Day of the Girl In 2012, the United Nations created International Day of the Girl. The purpose is to raise awareness about the inequality girls everywhere face. Every year, on October 11, we recognize how far we have yet to go in creating equality for girls. Dale demonstrates how dire the situation is for girls around the world. She writes, in part: Girls under 5-years-old are 3 times more likely to suffer malnutrition than boys under 5. In many low-income countries, 1 in 3 girls do not finish primary education. Every day, 25,000 girls are the victims of forced marriage. Pregnancy is the number one cause of death among 15- to 19-year-old girls. As Dale notes in the book, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of these numbers. It can often feel like a staggering and insurmountable challenge to create a more equitable world. But Strong Girls, Strong World also offers ways each of us can help. From donating to holding a kitting party, there are many ways you can improve the lives of girls. Strong Girls, Strong World is equal parts sobering and inspirational. Read Strong Girls, Strong World with us! Martha said of Strong Girls, Strong World, “Filled with compelling statistics, stories from her own personal life and from girls overcoming challenging circumstances, Dale gives us all the right reasons for why we should care — and why investing in a better future for girls around the world improves life for us all.” That’s why, in January, our Healthy Women, Healthy World book club will be reading Strong Girls, Strong World together. You’ll also have the opportunity to hear Dale talk about her work at our January book club meeting. Mark your calendars for book club today! Get your copy of Strong Girls, Strong World today. Then, join us in January to engage with a community that’s passionately championing the health of girls everywhere!