By Denise Dunning; Originally posted on Huffington Post
600 million girls living in poor countries around the world struggle to eat, go to school and see a doctor when they need one. Many of these girls suffer violence in their families and are married off as children to men three times their age. Although research demonstrates that girls are the key to ending global poverty, only two cents out of every dollar in international funding goes to programs supporting girls.
We're working to change that. One of the first and most important steps is changing societies' limiting gender narratives. Jennifer Siebel Newsom's Representation Project has led the movement to transform media representations of women and girls with the award-wining documentary "Miss Representation." The Representation Project has mobilized millions of people to use their voices to challenge the media's limiting portrayal of women and girls.
The organization I founded, Let Girls Lead, harnesses the strength of visionary leaders, partnering with in-country organizations to amplify the voices and power of girls and women worldwide. Based at the Public Health Institute, Let Girls Lead has helped 3 million girls attend school, stay healthy and learn skills to escape poverty. We've created an incubator model to invest in visionary leaders doing powerful work and provide them with the resources, training and funding to drastically scale their impact.
With support, girls can become inspiring leaders who have the power to transform their own lives, families, communities and the world. Let Girls Lead's new documentary "PODER" ("power" in Spanish) highlights this model, capturing the true story of Elba Velasquez and Emelin Cabrera, two courageous Mayan girls who stood up for girls' rights in Guatemala, transforming their community of 26,000 people and their nation of 14 million.
Stories are powerful. Storytelling and film mobilize communities to transform gender norms, fight discrimination and promote equality -- breaking down barriers that damage both girls and boys. In an interconnected world, our ability to share experiences through story increasingly drives change.
The West Coast premiere of "PODER" will take place on April 10 from 6:30-8:00pm PT. Watch the livestream at http://www.letgirlslead.org/poder Join .the live virtual conversation on twitter using #investingirls.