Recently, I started working as an editor for an amazing organization called Room to Read. As they describe their work:

We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.

To achieve this goal, we focus on two areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education. We work in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond.

As I edit reports about building classrooms and libraries, places I know so little about, I am inspired by what I read about community leaders and parents working to educate their children, and especially about young girls having a chance – many will be the first women in their families to EVER gain an education. I am also saddened to see children in schools that have so few books and so few other resources because their local and national governments value the education of these children so little.

What breaks my heart the most, though, is the young women in these places, places where women are subjugated, abused, and tortured because they are not valued as human beings. As much I might get fearful when I walk down a dark street at night here in the U.S., I know that for 99% of the time I am completely safe. These young women do not know that.

Today, I share with you this talk by Noble Prize-winner Leymah Gbowee as she tells the stories of young women in Liberia whose lives I cannot even begin to imagine in their horror and pain. Gbowee explains how we can empower these young women to see and use their greatness.

What will you do to empower the women you know and to help change life for women around the world?

I’m going to give 10% of all my earnings for writing, editing, and teaching in April and May to Gbowee’s organization Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-Africa). When I visit Liberia in late summer, I will go carrying these Liberian women’s stories as I seek out the stories of the people whose blood has traveled the same land as mine here in Virginia; I will seek out the descendants of those who were enslaved here, and I will pray that they have not lived into another form of slavery there. Perhaps my work, in some small way, will join with the greater work of Gbowee . . . perhaps we will lift people up. This is my prayer.