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2008 Clinton Global Initiative -- The Girl Effect

September 24, 2008

Cgiimage006_3That's the powerful social and economic change that occurs when girls and young women in the developing world have the opportunity to fully participate in their societies. Earlier today, former President Bill Clinton kicked off the opening plenary of the fourth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative by announcing that the World Bank, the Nike Foundation, the country of Denmark, and the country of Liberia will partner to provide relevant life and technical skills training to adolescent girls (ages 16 to 24) in Liberia and match those girls to paying jobs. The Adolescent Girls Initiative will target 1,500 girls and young women initially, with the ultimate goal of bringing the work to scale in post-conflict Liberia and replicating it in other developing countries. (For those who don't know how CGI "commitments" work, take a look at this post from last year.)

Why is the empowerment of girls and young women so important? Consider the following:

Population Trends

  • More than 600 million girls live in the developing world
  • More than one-quarter of the population in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa are girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 24
  • The total global population between the ages of 10 and 24 -- already the largest demographic cohort in history -- is expected to peak in the next decade

Educational Gaps

  • Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school
  • Seventy percent of the world's 130 million out-of-school youth are girls

Child Marriage and Early Childbirth

  • One girl in seven in developing countries marries before the age of 15; 38 percent marry before the age of 18
  • Twenty-five to 50 percent of gilrs in developing countries become mothers before the age of 18
  • In Nicaragua, 45 percent of girls with no schooling are married before the age of 18, compared to 16 percent of their educated counterparts. In Mozambique, the figures are 60 percent vs. 10 percent; in Senegal, 41 percent vs. 6 percent

Ripple Effects

  • When a girl in the developing world has received seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children
  • An extra year of primary schhol boosts girls' eventual wages by as much as 20 percent; an extra year of secondary school, up to 25 percent
  • Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher level of schooling among mothers
  • When women and girls earn income, they re-invest 90 precent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 percent to 40 percent for a man

"There's a strong argument for investing in girls. Economic opportunity -- particularly that of adolescent girls -- is crucial to generating the incentives that reverse inequality and break intergenerational cycles of poverty," said World Bank managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. "By working in partnership, we can make great strides in improving the livelihoods of adolescent girls, their families, and communities -- in Liberia and elsewhere."

To learn more about the work being done by the Nike Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, and others to empower girls, visit the Girl Effect Web site.

-- Mitch Nauffts

Comments

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This is an excellent post. Economists have underscored this topic for years. Amartya Sen and Muhammad Yunus (Grameen Bank) have made it their core work.

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