BASKING RIDGE, NJ - About 200 women celebrated the International Day of the Girl at a breakfast to benefit Room to Read at Delta Hotels by Marriott Basking Ridge. Best selling author of The Myth of the Nice Girl, Fran Hauser, was the featured speaker.
"International Day of the Girl was created in 2012 to empower young girls everywhere, as well as advocate for their human rights including education," said event organizer Nicole Smith, who leads the New Jersey Chapter for Room to Read.
Room to Read was started by John Wood, inspired by the generosity of Andrew Carnegie, who started 2,500 libraries across America in the early 1900s. "Wood wanted to do the same thing in the developing world," said Smith. Room to Read helps children learn to read and develop a love of reading at an early age. They have touched 37,000 communities by starting libraries, schools and literacy programs. Room to Read also "helps adolescent girls go and stay in school at a time when many drop out due to arranged marriage, trafficking or having to get a job to help the family make ends meet," she said.
She told a "little story" of what drives her passion towards literacy and breaking through barriers for girls. Her story was about a girl named Charlotte, who was born into a working class Irish Catholic family in the mid-west. "She wanted to go to college, but she had two factors working against her," Smith said. "She didn't have money and she was a girl." Smith explained that girls that wanted to follow a career path could be a nurse, teacher or a nun. Charlotte "followed the path that most women her age followed -- she got a job after high school, got married and started a family." The story continued with Charlotte's marriage falling and getting divorced. She moved to a university town, got a job, enrolled her kids in school and she enrolled herself in the university. She graduated with a bachelors degree in three years. "Charlotte is my mother. Charlotte was determined to break through the barriers that society and circumstances placed upon her to get her education," said Smith.
"There are many girls around the globe facing tremendous obstacles to education and they too are determined to change the cultural norms deemed them unworthy to get education," she said. "They are determined to get education and I am determined to get them education."
"Literacy is a luxury, literacy is a lifeline and literacy can not be taken away. Thank you for being here today to help us to allow more kids in the world to read and send more kids to school," said Smith.
She thanked the event sponsors and attendees before introducing speakers Fran Hauser, former President of Digital at Time Inc., and Pamela Chan, two-time Emmy award winning television news journalist. Event sponsors were Michelle Heide & Associates, Northwestern Mutual Princeton and JT's Confections.
Chan led the Breakthrough Breakfast interview by asking Hauser about her career path and how she landed in her current role as a start-up investor to over 20 companies, of which 18 are women led. They also discussed Hauser's best selling book The Myth of the Nice Girl. Hauser took questions and offered advise to the packed room. Visit www.franhauser.com to learn more about Hauser and her best selling book.