The “Girl Effect” and women’s rights

The “Girl Effect” and women’s rights

Whether you agree with it or not the “girl effect” has become something of a phenomenon and popular catchphrase among international economic development projects since the Nike Foundation launched the initiative in 2008. ‘You start the girl effect’, the website proclaims, with the girl effect being:

The unique potential for 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.

That’s quite a claim!

Detractors from the initiative, on the other hand, have been making a solid case against this approach, which has been summarised over at the Aid Watch blog at New York University (no longer in operation since May). Is the campaign too essentialist? Would the well-being of women really be put ahead of the well being of the economy? What about the agency of girls and women – is this approach only further perpetuating stereotypes, ie. women as victims in need of saving?

Ahead of the launch of this years World Development Report on gender and inequality on the 19th September – the first report of its kind by the World Bank devoted to gender – Duncan Green, head of research at Oxfam UK, invites us to sharpen our gender analysis skills by comparing, contrasting and analysing what is missing from these two videos [2 minutes] on women’s empowerment.

Is women’s empowerment a panacea for sustainable development? Who is the victor when it comes to women’s rights? Are either of these approaches appropriate or are they both flawed?

Who wins – Nike or the Commonwealth?

When you are finished watching the videos feel free to vote on Duncan’s blog and join in the responses that follow.

Nike Girl Effect video: