'The Face' host's message to girls

Story highlights

  • Nigel Barker writes an open letter to girls of the world
  • To get every girl in a classroom, "men and boys need to be part of the solution"
  • CNN Films' "Girl Rising" premieres June 16

Dear Girls of the World,

My 3-year-old daughter, Jasmine, amazes me every day. In all of my travels around the world as a fashion photographer, I've never seen anything more beautiful than watching her grow up. She loves going to school and dreams of becoming a doctor and a ballerina -- there are no limits to what she can become!

As a father, it pains me that not every girl has the same chance as Jasmine to get an education and pursue her dreams.

Nigel Barker

Today, girls make up more than half of the 140 million children and adolescents who don't attend school, and in many countries, more than half the girls drop out before they get to the sixth grade. Instead of getting an education, they are often forced to marry as children and carry the burden of household chores.

This predicament is devastating for millions of girls who deserve better. It's also devastating for our world because educating girls is one of the most important steps we can take to end poverty. When a girl is educated, she is likely to earn more money to support her family, to promote economic growth in her country, and to have a healthier home life.

The good news is: We can make a difference.

As part of the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up campaign, I've had the opportunity to work with young people to stand up for girls' education. Girl Up, a "for girls, by girls" campaign, mobilizes the energy of youth to help raise funds and awareness for United Nations programs that provide girls in developing countries with life-changing opportunities, like getting an education. Thanks to the work of the U.N., governments, organizations and girls around the world, more girls than ever are in primary school.

We still have more work to do to get every girl in a classroom, but we are making progress.

Achieving this goal will require all of us to stand up for girls' rights. Men and boys need to be part of the solution. After all, the positive impact of girls' education has been shown to transcend generations, benefiting girls, as well as their families, their communities and our world.

Girls can change the future, but we need to give them the chance. Join the growing movement to advocate for girls' education.

- Nigel Barker

More: CNN's "Girl Rising"

Write your own open letter to girls of the world

      Girl Rising

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      Watch an excerpt: 'Girl Rising' on CNN

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    • Suma, Nepal
"Change is like a song you can't hold back." 
Suma's brothers are sent to school, but her parents have no money for a daughter's education. Given into bonded servitude at age 6, Suma labors in the house of a master from before dawn until late at night. For years, the Nepali girl suffers in silence, until music gives her a voice. A stroke of luck and kindness gives Suma a chance to go to school -- and a crusader is born.

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    • Senna, Peru
"Poetry is how I turn ugliness into art."  
La Rinconada, Peru, is a bleak corner of the world that regularly turns out two things: gold from deep within its mountain, which is immediately sent far away; and despair, which remains. Senna's is 
the poorest of the poor mining families clinging to that mountain. Every day is a struggle. Yet, somehow, she was given two magnificent gifts: a father who named her for a warrior princess and insisted that she goes to school, and a talent with words. And when Senna discovers poetry, everything changes.

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