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'The Face' host's message to girls

By Nigel Barker, Special to CNN
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Wed June 5, 2013
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

Editor's note: Nigel Barker is a photographer, host of TV's "The Face" and former judge on "America's Next Top Model." This open letter to the girls of the world is part of the "Girl Rising" project. CNN Films' "Girl Rising" documents extraordinary girls and the power of education to change the world. Watch it June 16 on CNN.

(CNN) -- 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!

Nigel Barker
Nigel Barker

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

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.

To be born a girl in Afghanistan is often to be ushered into a life of servitude, where girls have very little worth and very dim futures. Amina is forced to marry at 12, to bear a child though still a child herself -- while her own brother is given her dowry money to buy a used car. But Amina, whose name was changed and story portrayed by an actress out of concern for her safety, has had enough, and she is fighting back.
CNN Films' "Girl Rising" tells the stories of Amina and other girls from around the world and how the power of education can change the world. Learn more about the girls' inspiring stories.
(From 10x10)
To be born a girl in Afghanistan is often to be ushered into a life of servitude, where girls have very little worth and very dim futures. Amina is forced to marry at 12, to bear a child though still a child herself -- while her own brother is given her dowry money to buy a used car. But Amina, whose name was changed and story portrayed by an actress out of concern for her safety, has had enough, and she is fighting back. CNN Films' "Girl Rising" tells the stories of Amina and other girls from around the world and how the power of education can change the world. Learn more about the girls' inspiring stories. (From 10x10)
Girl Rising
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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

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