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They show what's wrong with the way the world treats girls without even saying a word.

Sometimes we need a reminder of what women and girls have achieved so far — and sometimes we need a reminder that we've still got *a lot* of ass-kicking to do (figuratively, of course).

They show what's wrong with the way the world treats girls without even saying a word.
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Gates Foundation

Imagine a girl. OK.


Got it.


... Your little sister, your cousin, your friend, your neighbor, etc. Cool.

... A burden?

Wait. Huh?

Where is this going?

I don't like this.

Wow.

She has nothing.


This is the worst.


Oof. Just like *she* was...

Of course it does. :(

I was afraid of that.

25,000 times every day? Holy sh*t.

1 in 7. Ugh.

I just flashed back to when I was 15. I can't imagine.

It's really not fair.

For most of us, it can be hard to relate to what life might be like if you were forced out of school and married off when you were young. But for way too many girls out there (we're talking MILLIONS), it's unfortunately the only life to know. BUT there *is* a way out:

  1. Of every international aid dollar spent, only 2 cents goes to girls. 2 cents! That's it! When there are 600 million girls in the developing world and one-quarter of them aren't in school, we should be investing and focusing more on them. Don't ya think?
  2. Women make 10% of the world's income and own only 1% of property. But if more girls are able to change tradition and refuse to be married, and stay in school and work instead, it would not only change their fate but the fate of their entire communities.
  3. Organizations like The Girl Effect and Malala's Movement stand up for the health and well-being of girls around the world and try to change #1 and #2 above. Sign their petitions to show you're all for it.

I took in all of these signs, and I came out feeling hopeful. See where you land:

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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