by Jane K.

Recently, I was asked the question, “who is a woman that has inspired you, and why?” I took a minute to think about my response, and despite having so many inspirational women to choose from, my answer was “Jane Goodall.”

Since the age of 6, Dr. Jane Goodall has been an influential part of my life. My family was very involved in Roots & Shoots in both China and Australia, and I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Jane on several occasions. My involvement with Roots & Shoots has opened many doors for me throughout the years, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without it.  Dr. Jane has been most inspiring for me because she was a pioneer scientist, is a global change-maker, and she believes in the power of education and youth.

Dr. Jane once said:

“My family has very strong women. My mother never laughed at my dream of Africa, even though everyone else did because we didn't have any money, because Africa was the 'dark continent', and because I was a girl.”

Despite these limitations and discouragement, Dr. Jane refused to give up on her dream. She made it to Africa, and not only did her discoveries benefit the world of science, but her incredible strength and spirit has created inspiration for women and girls to become involved in creating a better world.

The most powerful and effective way for girls to create change is for them to have access to education. It has been proven that educating girls is the most direct way to eradicate poverty and improve the status of women everywhere. Today there are 66 million girls out of school globally, many of who will be victims of child marriage or sexual assault.

Yet when you educate a girl, you can end the cycle of poverty in just one generation. Just one! An educated woman can earn 20% more as an adult, which they will then invest in their family’s health and education, leading to stronger and more sustainable communities.

International Women’s Day, which is commemorated on March 8 across the globe each year, invites world leaders and communities to, “celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women in the past, present and future.” It is an occasion to reflect on the struggles and triumphs women have experienced, and to plan and celebrate opportunities which lie ahead for future generations of girls and women.

For this year’s International Women’s Day, and throughout 2014, my personal goal is going to be Inspiring Change through Education. I encourage you to join me in embracing and reflecting on the power of girls and women. Ask yourself who most inspires you, and follow in their footsteps. Utilise the power of education by spreading the message and creating awareness about what is most important to you. And most importantly, never forget Dr. Jane Goodall’s message that “what you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”