The Girl Effect

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The Girl Effect is a movement based on the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world. It’s about getting girls on to the global development stage and driving massive resources to them. It is based on the common belief in the field of International Development that when given the opportunity, girls and women are more effective at lifting themselves and their families out of poverty, thereby having a multiplier effect within their villages, cities, and nations.


The Girl Effect was created in 2008 by the Nike Foundation, in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls. It launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos with a film that challenged people to think differently about the role girls play in development.

When girls are specifically included in education, health and economic investment, the world has a better chance of preventing issues such as child marriage, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty.[1] But girls still need the world to listen to them and invest in their potential.

In November 2014, Nike Foundation and Unreasonable Group partnered to launch the first accelerator dedicated to impacting girls in poverty called the "Girl Effect Accelerator".[2][3] This program brought out the fastest growing startups in the developing world that collectively were positioned to impact over 10 million girls living in poverty including Embrace (non-profit), Jayaashree Industries with CEO Arunachalam Muruganantham, Bridge International Academies, and 7 additional startup companies as well as 20 mentors (including Seth Godin, Kamran Elahian, and Jigar Shah) all gathered toward the end of scaling business efforts to impact the lives of girls in poverty.[4] The program was led by Nike Foundation's Tom DeBlassis and CEO of Unreasonable Group Daniel A. Epstein.[5]

Today the Girl Effect is driven by hundreds of thousands of supporters who believe in the potential of 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty. exists to help this community continue to make a powerful case for supporting girls, by equipping them to do the best work with and for girls.

Why girls?[edit]

One study has shown that an educated girl will invest 10-20 times more income back into her family and community than a man would.[footnote 1][6] Girls who receive an education marry at an older age, have fewer children, and are more likely to seek healthcare for themselves and their children.[7] Even so, nearly 250 million[8] adolescent girls live in poverty.[9] Today, fewer than two cents of every international development dollar goes to girls – the very people who have the capacity to make an impact on ending poverty. As long as girls remain invisible, the world misses out on a tremendous opportunity for change.

Better lives for girls mean better lives for everyone in their communities - their brothers, fathers, future husbands and sons. When you improve a girl’s life through education, health, safety and opportunity, these changes have a positive ripple effect. As an educated mother, an active, productive citizen and a prepared employee, she is the most influential force in her community to break the cycle of poverty.


The Nike Foundation

The NoVo Foundation

The United Nations Foundation

The Coalition for Adolescent Girls

UK Department for International Development

Unreasonable Group


  • 2009 nominated for Webby Award in “Activism” category
  • 2011 Nexus Productions Bradford Animation Festival, Best Commercial
  • 2011 Nike Foundation wins Global EthicMark Advertising Award
  • Mar 2011 Nike Foundation Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking Wins TED's Top Ten Ads Worth Spreading
  • May 2012 - Girl effect voted in 19 best non-profit websites
  • Apr 2013 GE.ORG website nominated for Webby Award
  • Apr 2013 Sports Trade Awards - won by Nike, Girl Effect charity for event
  • Jun 2013 Life Ball - Crystal of Hope Award (100K Euros), Vienna, Austria
  • Aug 2013 Nominated for INDEX: Award for Design 2013 (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Nov 2013 Nominated for Create Design Award 2013 (Sydney, November)
  • At the Life Ball 2013 in Vienna, Austria, The Girl Effect was awarded the Life Ball Crystal of Hope Award donated by Swarovski, endowed with EUR 100,000.[10]


This campaign has been the focus of feminist and academic critiques. As other projects that talk of women and girls as 'the magic bullet of development', the campaign was said to rely on essentialist views of womanhood, depict women and girls in developing countries as 'in need of saving'. Further, these type of campaigns that do not take into consideration men and the relations of women and girls with their households and community often have the effect of overburdening women who are already responsible for childcare and all types of formal and informal labor.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ $1 in female hands is worth $10 (and in some cases $20) in male hands as women tend to invest money directly back into the family, children, education, health care, etc. while men spend it elsewhere.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Banerjee, Abhijit (2001). Poor Economics. PublicAffairs. p. 320. 
  2. ^ Zax, David. "THE GIRL EFFECT ACCELERATOR LAUNCHES, AIMING TO HELP GIRLS EARNING LESS THAN $2 A DAY". Fast Company. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Tavakoli-Far, Nastaran. "The entrepreneurs helping girls in the developing world". BBC News. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Sommer-Dawes, Kate. "Nike Foundation Launches 'Girl Effect' Accelerator to Combat Global Poverty". Mashable. 
  5. ^ "THESE AREN'T YOUR AVERAGE SILICON VALLEY STARTUPS". Girl Effect. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Analysis by Shelley Clark, commissioned by the Population Council and Nike, who projected using suitable life event data from Malawi, Kenya, and Zimbabwe the proportion of women whose marriages will be disrupted by divorce or widowhood. This analysis excluded those who were never married, whether or not they had children, did not capture those in polygamous union or women who were economically abandoned by their husbands-this data is probably the lower boundary of a proportion of women who carry this responsibility.
  7. ^ The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (June 2010). "Millennium Development Goals Report 2010" (PDF). p. 35. 
  8. ^ Of the global population of adolescent girls, estimated at 582.3 million, 239.3 million (41%) of these are thought to be living in poverty.
  9. ^ Chaaban, Jad, and Wendy Cunningham (N.p.: World Bank, 2011). "Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls". Working paper no. 5753.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ "Life Ball: Crystal of Hope 2013 donated by Swarovski for "The Girl Effect"". Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  11. ^ Carella, Anna. "So Now We Have to Save Ourselves and the World, too? A Critique of the Girl Effect". Aid Watch. 
  12. ^ Chant, Sylvia (200). "From 'Woman‐Blind'to 'Man‐Kind'Should Men Have More Space in Gender and Development?". IDS bulletin. 

External links[edit]