“The Girl Effect”: Empowering Girls in the Developing World

By: Selene Lawrence
GRI Data Partner Report Analyst, Governance & Accountability Institute

In 2008, the Nike Foundation channeled their foundation’s experience in the developing world to take part in a new empowerment and education initiative called “The Girl Effect”. The project was created in partnership between Nike and the NoVo Foundation, which searches for sustainable, bottom-up approaches to promote social and economic development. It is co-chaired by Jennifer and Peter Buffet, as well as the United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls.

The Girl Effect targets vulnerable adolescent girls in the developing world by using funding, awareness and volunteer work to address and uproot the stem of poverty and inequality. The Girl Effect focuses on education, healthcare, and policy to change the lives of millions of young girls threatened by adolescent pregnancy and the debilitating effects poverty. The approach is multi-faceted; the initiative operates by reaching out to NGO’s, volunteers, policy makers, donors and community activists to spread awareness and attract the necessary partners they need to make a difference.

Monetary donations to The Girl Effect from corporations or individuals can be designated to a variety of projects that they either support or have created. To encourage donations the foundation suggests: “Send a girl to school”, “Help her fight a legal case”, “Give her a microloan” or “Start the Girl Effect”. The organization has protocols in place to start the process.

The Nike Foundation’s projects are impressive in their range of approaches. Examples of their twelve innovative, girl-focused projects include programs for Uganda’s adolescent girls which a US$ 30 donation provides 3 washable feminine hygiene kits that girls can utilize for up to 3 years, and a US$ 50 donation provides 250 health and education manuals to girls participating in Teen Girls Workshops throughout the year.

In Zimbabwe, US$ 60 will provide 10 orphaned girls training about their legal rights. In Cambodia, a program has been established that empowers girls rescued from sex slavery where a range of donation levels gives girls their own jewelry making kit to provide income and the capital to provide medical examinations. A US$ 140 dollar donation covers tuition, housing, and medical care for two months.

The Teen Mother Empowerment Program in Cameroon will use a US$ 100 donation to cover the materials and logistics for one group of teen mothers to obtain a microloan. Not only are young girls extremely vulnerable, but they also represent the future and their programs in early education, such as providing pre-schooling for girls’ children in Ghana, foster awareness and education at an early age.

These examples are just a fraction of their donation-based programs which are extremely impressive in the scale, variety and organization of programs that are at the forefront in tackling girls’ issues in the developing world.

Although The Girl Effect is Nike’s biggest initiative with the widest array of partners and networks, the Nike Foundation also created “Girl Hub” in collaboration with the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) in 2010. Girl Hub actively engage adolescents in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda in encouraging participation in family planning, outreach, and resource planning. This work, along with The Girl Effect is setting-up the empowerment of young girls on a local level with the resources essential for development.

Through Girl Hub they have created a radio-drama program in Ethiopia called Yenga (ours). The broadcast has a program with characters that reflect the lives of so many of its listeners, young girls dealing with and overcoming violence, teenage marriage and pregnancy, staying in school etc. Immediately following Yenga is a talk show that hosts recognized journalists and artists who address the issues presented in the drama. This is an exciting, actively engaging way for young, isolated and impoverished girls to gain confidence and foster independent ideas.

Yenga has produced a music video for a song in the show called “Abet”, which translated means: We Are Here. This video has been viewed 500,000 times in Ethiopia, which The Girl Effect proudly states is the fifth most watched video in the country. Permeating the minds of young girls as well as providing the resources and outlets to gain resources is the spark towards change.

In 2013 The Girl Effect produced the official “Girl Declaration” in collaboration with the development organizations with whom they partner. This declaration incorporated the input of 508 impoverished girl voices from around the world. The declaration has goals, targets, and principles as well as individual stories that map out the goals of The Girl Effect and provide a framework for The United Nations and other organizations to address the problem. UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon publicly backed the declaration stating: “To achieve meaningful results, we need fresh solutions to girls’ education challenges and we must heed the voices of young people.” The Girl Declaration has demanded and received attention from the political world to aid the change that the Nike Foundation and their global partners seek to achieve.

In October 2013 The Girl Effect, as well as multiple foundations that work alongside Nike, promoted the second annual International Day of the Girl (IDG). This special event emphasized the continued need for prioritizing young girls in the development agenda.

Targeting communities and individuals though education, culturally relevant and engaging economic initiatives has been the breakthrough in modern sustainable development theory, and Nike has used their advantages to make headway in the field. Nike is putting young girls as a priority on the path towards a healthier and independent sustainable global community.

About the Author: Selene Lawrence is a GRI Data Partner Report Analyst at Governance & Accountability Institute (the exclusive GRI data partner in the US, UK, and Ireland).  While analyzing Nike’s sustainable business report, a GRI-G3 Application Level B report, she came across this wonderful program. She is also an Undergraduate student at Hunter College, City University of New York, and expects to graduate in Fall 2014. Selene is using her experience at Governance & Accountability Institute to gain insight in applying sustainability to the corporate world and improving transparency.

Visit http://www.girleffect.org/ to explore their programs, watch videos and find ways to get involved.

Watch “Abet” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjqCEZO04yc

Governance & Accountability Institute

The G&A Institute is the exclusive GRI Data Partner in the United States of America. In this role it is our responsibility to monitor, collect and analyze every Sustainability report issued by US entities. This includes GRI-compliant, GRI-Referenced, and Non-GRI reports, in various formats – print and digital.

In 2013 we analyzed over 600 US Sustainability reports from a wide range of sectors, and covering an even wider range of stakeholders, issues, and data. No other consulting organization has the depth and breadth of knowledge related to U.S. corporate sustainability & responsibility reporting. Analyzing this many reports has enabled us to structure many unique resources for our clients.

Citing the quality of our work, GRI now demonstrates our systems and methods as a model for data partners around the world (in other geographic areas).  In 2012 the Institute was given the honor of being invited to be the sole data partner for the United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland in addition to continuing our duties in the USA.

Please visit us to learn more about G&A Institute:  http://www.ga-institute.com

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