As of 2018, Sarah Ireland has taken on the role as CEO at One Girl. She brings a plethora of knowledge and experience about the development sector, after working as a Humanitarian Advisor for Save The Children.
“Change doesn’t just happen, change happens because we demand it”
Sarah encouraged the students at Melbourne Altitude Day to never doubt the power of small change and the right people to help you get your idea off the ground.
Sarah shared this with us when we asked her our Fast Four questions!
What are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about girls education and gender equality. Right now there are over 130 million girls around the world who are denied an education. By empowering people with knowledge about themselves and the world around them, education enables a person to make their own decisions based on knowledge and awareness, it inspires independent thinking, and it provides people with the skills they need to be economically secure. I believe that education holds the power to change the world. It is the key to eliminating gender equality, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet, and tackling preventable deaths and illnesses. It can fight climate change, it can make whole families healthier, and its impact can be felt generation after generation after generation. When a girl is educated, her income increases by 10% – 25% for every year she stays in school. She’ll get married later and have a smaller, healthier family when she’s ready. Her health, economic status, and future family all benefit. And all because of the power of education.
What action are you taking to influence change in that area?
I use my voice as the CEO of One Girl to highlight why many of those 130 million girls around the world are out of school, and what we in Australia can do to help them overcome the barriers that are stopping them from getting an education. One Girl also directly supports girls and young women in Sierra Leone and Uganda to access educational opportunities so they can become independent and empowered women.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt on your journey so far?
The biggest lesson I have learned is to embrace the journey! My 10-year-plan when I was 15 (yes, I had a 10-year-plan!) didn’t end up happening exactly as I planned as unexpected opportunities took me in a different direction. But I realise now that it was these different experiences and the skills that I developed along the way that make up who I have become. Don’t be afraid to step onto a different path, you never know where it might lead you.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Find your passion! My advice to my younger self is: “Sarah, figure out what you’re passionate about, grab hold of that passion and remind yourself every day about why it is important.” It took me a while to clearly articulate that I am passionate about gender equality and girls’ education, and that’s fine. The point is to think about it, ask yourself where you get your spark from, and how you can light that spark to make positive change in the world.