Many of us in the charitable community have already heard about the Girl Effect, a ground-breaking campaign launched by the Nike Foundation to bring attention to the unique role adolescent girls play in facilitating the development of third world economics.
But a recap never hurts, so here are some compelling stats to help set the stage:
• Today, women are the backbone of developing economies. They perform 66% of the world's work and produce 50% of the world's food supply.
• When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
• An extra year of primary school boosts girls' eventual wages by 10 to 20 %. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 %.
• When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 % of it into the health, nutrition and educational needs of their families (as compared to only 30 to 40 % for men).
• A child born to a mother with elementary school education is only half as likely to die before the age of 5.
Despite these facts, 70% of the world's 130 million out-of-school children are girls. And the situation gets worse as a girl reaches adulthood: women bear 70% of the world's poverty, earn only 10% of the world's income and own only 1% of the worlds land. (sources: girleffect.org, joinfite.org, unesco.org).
Girl Effect is designed to bring critical awareness to these facts, and educate the general public on the unique role adolescent girls can play in eradicating global poverty. Their campaign has met with breathtaking success, and in a few short years concerned global citizens have invested nearly $700,000 in the Girl Effect Fund to improve the health, education, training and economic opportunities of adolescent girls around the world--reaching them at the critical crossroad between childhood and womanhood.
The Girl Effect Fund, launched in partnership with GlobalGiving, is the Girl Effect's way of turning the inspiration the campaign has generated into action.
But this fall, Girl Effect and GlobalGiving have gotten even more creative in channeling this energy. Beginning October 15th, approximately 50 organizations around the world will compete in a month-long challenge to earn six of twelve featured spots on the Girl Effect Fund page. Girl Effect will select an additional six of these pre-screened projects to benefit from the fund based on their unique approach to empowering girls in the developing world. These twelve organizations will then receive an equal share of contributions to the Girl Effect fund throughout 2012.
One participating project, the Blossom Bus, provides daily transportation to and from school for adolescent girls in rural India who are left with little choice but to drop out after primary school because secondary schools are too far to commute to by foot. "Many of the girls participating in the project are the first girls in the history of their villages to reach grades 9 and 10," says Erika Keaveney, Executive Director of Lotus Outreach International, the organization responsible for the Blossom Bus project. "In fact," she shares, "a startling number of these girls narrowly escaped childhood marriages--often arranged once they turn 12 or 13 years old--as a result of the project."
True to the spirit of the Girl Effect, a mere $150 can help these girls not only escape child marriages, but become trailblazers for women's empowerment in their communities.
The challenge begins on October 15 and wraps up on November 15, and the top six organizations to recruit the greatest number of unique donors will become Girl Effect Fund partners for the entire 2012 year. To learn more, visit: the Girl Effect website, the Girl Effect Fund, GlobalGiving.org, and the Blossom Bus project page.