The Girl Effect: Unleashing the Potential of Every Girl in the World

Anita is absolutely inspiring! It is hard to imagine a life so different from the comforts and luxuries of living in America. I was blown away when she said she had to convince her parents to let her go to school by going on a hunger strike. Her courage never stopped shining as she put herself through college, even competing with men twice her age, and now she owns her own business!

This story pulls my heartstrings in several ways. I am also a business owner and without the ability to go to school and educate myself I have no idea where I would be. Anita fought so hard for the same opportunities that we sometimes take for granted.

I also have a passion for India. When visited in December 2004, I went to the small town of Conoor in Tamil Nadu. I visited a family in the Nilgiri Hills who had sent their daughter to the city to have a chance to go to school. They were of a low caste and could only afford to live in a one room shack. They bathed and cooked from the same water source. All their belongings could fit in a small rollerbag suitcase (I can’t even pack for a weekend trip in a single rollerbag). Their daughter was their only chance to improve their lives. This is The Girl Effect.

Later in the Trip, I visited the coastal city of Chennai. I was there during the tsunami and I witnessed first-hand its devastating impact on the eastern coastal towns. Many of the small shanty towns close to the shore in Chennai were absolutely wiped out from the aftermath of extreme poverty.

Anita is just one girl, but her effect is huge. Not only is she able to support herself and her family (including medical bills for her parents) but she has inspired every girl in her village to follow her footsteps. One thing she said that touched me the most:

“Do all girls have to overcome what I did just to have a chance?
I hope not.”

I hope not too! What can we do? Visit The Girl Effect website to learn how you can get involved and help give girls a chance.

Tracy Matthews

This post is part of a collaborative effort of hundreds of bloggers coming together to write about The Girl Effect. I encourage everyone to visit The Girl Effect website to learn more. If you have a blog of your own please join the movement and post your own thoughts about the cause. Every small effort helps!


  1. Stormy on October 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, Tracy. Such a great cause to be a part of!

  2. Kathleen on October 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Tracey, what an exceptional opportunity to have first hand experience of this girl effect. What power and intelligence in that one family’s act to sacrifice for their daughter. And now to hear how it benefits not only her own family but the whole tribe… is soooo inspiring! YAY! for GIRL POWER! thank you for the post! xo

  3. Sherold Barr on October 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Tracey – I loved this video and that you let me understand the problem through her eyes. Well done sista!

  4. Denise Duffield-Thomas on October 4, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I wonder if Anita knows that her story is inspiring women all around the world to contribute but also it’s inspiring all of us entrepreneurs to grow too, so we can contribute more – what an inspiration!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Tracy Matthews on October 4, 2011 at 11:44 pm

      I know! Anita is so amazing. Thanks Denise!

  5. Pat Novak on October 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Your story really brings this home Tracy. How so much can be changed if a girl is given that chance. Thank you for sharing your experience. Anita’s question: “Do all girls have to overcome what I did just to have a chance? is really the whole point. And her wish: “I hope not.”

    • Tracy Matthews on October 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      I definitely hope not! Thanks for your comment Pat!

  6. Tracy Matthews on October 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I know! Anita is so amazing. Thanks for the comment Denise!

  7. Laura Gates on October 5, 2011 at 3:02 am

    Tracy thanks for sharing your own journey and experience of the third world thru your eyes. I really appreciate your perspective on the issues.

    • Tracy Matthews on October 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      Thanks for the note Laura! such an important piece!

  8. Laurie Rosenfeld on October 5, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Tracy, I was also moved by Anita’s story. And I so enjoyed your personal sharing and the contrasts that really bring home the things we take for granted in the West. I have been dreaming of visiting India and your post has stirred me again. Thanks for sharing The Girl Effect with your people. So honored to be on this journey with you! xoxo

    • Tracy Matthews on October 5, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks Laurie, So glad you enjoyed the story. Yes great to be on this amazing journey!

  9. Tanya on October 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing your personal story about India. I’m going in December and would love to connect and get some recommendations. 🙂

    • Tracy Matthews on October 5, 2011 at 4:30 pm

      Tanya, you can shoot me an email via the contact form here.
      I love India!

  10. Nasrine on October 5, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Your story is wonderful. It ‘s really a whole other element when you see what poverty is, up close and personal. It changes you, it fundamentally makes such a huge impact on the soul. Thanks so much for sharing the above. I love how this campaign is connecting so many people globally from the developing world and the developing world.

    • Tracy Matthews on October 6, 2011 at 2:26 am

      Thanks for your note Nasrine! This is a really powerful connecting force!

  11. Jennifer Peek on October 6, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Tracy –

    Your connection to India and the first-hand experience you had with the family you met adds just another layer to Anita’s story. It can be so easy for us to see the issue as too large, making it impersonal. Your story, Anita’s story serve as great reminders that is a very personal issue. Thanks for bringing it back to that personal level

    • Tracy Matthews on October 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      Thanks for your comment Jennifer. Yes, It is really close to my heart and such a plight for girls in India!

  12. Alara Castell on October 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I’m so loving these videos and the stories. So much heart and so many leaders who are stepping out. I am so loving it and it enriches my heart and soul. I to have a big place in my heart for India. I used to go their for business and was amazing at all the smiles of people who were living on the street. It was amazing how much appreciation they had for the small things. Thank you for sharing your piece from your experience in India and sharing this video with the world.

    Alara K. Castell

    • Tracy Matthews on October 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks for commenting Alara! India is so amazing!

  13. Karen Christensen | The Legacy Boutique on October 7, 2011 at 2:41 am

    It is such a rare gift when you find likeminded women sharing and giving as you do. Your share about traveling to India resonates so fully with me. Having traveled throughout Thailand, Indonesia, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras — I can relate to similar but distinct experiences. India is a place of many paradoxes and one I’m sure you never quite leave behind. I’m sure she stays with you always, and her people {like that little girl} live inside you always. I’m so grateful for this blogging campaign and for women like you contributing as you are. Truly grateful. Together, we are The Girl Effect. And it feels good.

    • Tracy Matthews on October 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks for your comment Karen. As a world nomad, you certainly know how these girls need our help!

  14. Hillary Rubin on October 12, 2011 at 6:39 am

    powerful piece. glad I took the time to read.

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