Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Girl Effect...

During this time of the United Way campaign at many of our workplaces, I wanted to share a great cause that some may not know about. www.girleffect.org. If you take a few minutes to educate yourself on the impact of this cause, you might want to steer your giving towards those charities that can make a difference to young girls around the globe.

Here is a document that articulates the "girl effect" far better than I can.

Today, 600 million overlooked adolescent girls are 600 million chances for long-term change. Today, less than half a cent of every international aid dollar is directed to them. Today, there are successful, girl-focused programs ready for more.

Here are eight programs that are built on positive change. They’ve seen girls’ lives improve – and how one girl’s success ripples out to her family, community and beyond. Each of these eight is based on either a proven success, or a powerful insight. Each offers either a scale-up or a start-up opportunity. Each one touches a part of the world where girls are particularly vulnerable. Each one represents a high return on any investment.


BRAC BANGLADESH: From burden to breadwinner– for $26

In Bangladesh, almost 90% of girls are married before 18 in some regions. Here, BRAC pioneered a microfinance program for girls in 2004. Three years later, 40,000 adolescent girls had gained the confidence, skills and capital to run their own businesses and manage their own resources. With ducks, tomatoes, embroidery, these entrepreneurs paid their school fees, delayed marriage and often paid their siblings’ tuition — all for $26 per girl. The program’s next phase is called SOFEA. Its operating model builds in financial sustainability, so one-time investments can benefit generations of girls to come.



In its SOFEA project in Bangladesh, BRAC proved girls don’t need much to unleash the girl effect. That pilot demonstrated that with a $150 loan, skills training and a support network, girls started businesses that immediately benefited themselves and their families – and provided incentives for everyone to delay girls’ marriage. In a south-to-south transmission of knowledge, this project brings that success to Uganda and Tanzania, where 70% of girls are married before age 18 in some regions.


FUNDACIÓN PARAGUAYA : A girls’ school that pays for itself

A school that all local girls can attend, regardless of income. A school that’s a functioning farm, where girls grow the school’s revenue stream – and become agricultural professionals, gaining skills and expertise that their farm worker fathers never had. A school that’s fine-tuned to the needs of girls. A school that will support itself in five years. That’s the vision of Fundación Paraguaya: a triple bottom line of social, economic and environmental returns, for the entire community.


THE WORLD BANK AND PARTNERS: What happens when girls are a national priority

Africa’s first female head-of-state saw what the rest of her continent’s leaders have not: adolescent girls are more than victims in war-torn, post-conflict nations. They are part of the solution. With the World Bank and the Nike Foundation, President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf is linking girls’ skills training to real jobs in the sectors that need them the most. Girls win, their families win – and so does the whole of Liberia. This initiative extends that approach to Afghanistan, Rwanda, Nepal, Sudan and Togo, with the support of the governments of Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, UK and Milan, Italy.


THE POPULATION COUNCIL: A goat gives a girl a chance, and she does the rest

If you are 15 years old in the poor Amhara region of Ethiopia, there is a 43% chance you are married. You are another mouth to feed, and your dowry will bring income to your family. This program goes to the heart of those harsh economic trade-offs. In its pilot, families received an incentive to let their girl go to a girl-centered safe space: a $25 goat. After two years, 97% of participants were still in the program, and 11,000 girls had gained life skills and self-confidence, delayed marriage and stayed in school.


A CONSORTIUM OF GRASSROOTS DONORS: Community-driven change for girls

Across the developing world, there are groups working inside village walls and family compounds. They are grassroots organizations, and they are one of the most effective ways to reach girls. But their proximity to girls’ lives is also their barrier in gaining support: small and remote, it’s difficult for outside organizations to find and support them. The Grassroots Girls Initiative fixes that: this is a direct funding pipeline to hundreds of girl-focused organizations closest to a girl’s community.


TECHNOSERVE: Girls team up to create safe income generation

In Nairobi’s harsh urban slums, girls are six times more likely to be HIV positive than boys. That devastating number reflects girls employing the only economic asset they have: their body. Young Women in Enterprise starts simply: a group of girls gets together and learns basic business principles. From there, they move to collective savings and loans – and their own businesses. From there, these young women can make choices about their lives, in environments where few individuals have that power.


GOING TO SCHOOL INDIA: Finding entrepreneurs-intraining in India’s poorest communities

A girl living in poverty is already an entrepreneur-in-training. To simply survive, she has already learned to be resourceful. A negotiator. A networker. She could be further down the path of economic possibility than she – or anyone else – realizes. Except the Indian non-profit Going To School. Through their program Be! An Entrepreneur, a mass media campaign teaches girls and boys to see their skills. It’s accompanied by an investment fund that will support start-up capital for social businesses of young entrepreneurs in India.

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