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The Girl Effect

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 by Marianne Elliott

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Remember the Girl Effect?

Last year I took part in the Girl Effect blogging campaign led by Tara Mohr. I got so excited by the conversation, I wrote four posts.

First I wrote about Faezeh. If you haven’t yet, take five minutes and watch this video Faezeh and I made to see the Girl Effect in action.

Faezeh is a young Afghan woman who worked with me as my Human Rights Assistant. She’s one of the brightest, most ambitious young women I’ve ever met.

Her dream is to be the Secretary General of the United Nations.

She plans to use that position to really make a difference for women and children who experience poverty, oppression and violence all around the world.

In 2009 many of you helped me raise the money Faezeh needed to take up a scholarship at a University in the US. Now she’s studying politics and law, and I look forward to following her progress towards being the first female Secretary General of the UN.

I have no way of knowing the exact impact Faezeh may have on the lives of other young women and girls. But I know that she now has the opportunity to make choices that will improve the lives of her own family, at the very least.

This is what is called The Girl Effect.

The Girl Effect: Invest in a girl and she will do the rest.

That’s what we did with Faezeh.

Of course it’s not always that simple. There are cultural barriers to a girl’s education. What if people don’t want the girl effect? I wrote about that last year too. But perhaps the most beautiful thing written about that was this, in a comment from Lianne Raymond:

“We can be sensitive in how we move forward and honour the child. Behind the demands of the family or culture is often a need that is competing with their own desires to see their child blossom. We can be sensitive to and acknowledge and address those needs in the process of advocating for the child. I’ve discovered in my experience that the most beautiful, gentle and immense power comes when I move from love and not self-righteousness.”


Of course, there are other challenges. Unjust global trade rules, property laws and financial structures. Big problems that hold entire countries back, not only their daughters.

It takes much more than the money for school fees to give a girl access to a good education.

For a girl anywhere to have a fair chance, we need a fairer world for everyone.

And here’s the thing: these two approaches (the big picture structural changes and the local level initiatives to change the life of individual girls) are dependent on each other if either is to achieve long term positive change for the girls and their communities.

Because we need more girls from developing countries to grow up to be women who have their say at those international negotiating tables.

Actually, we need those girls to start having their say now.

One thing I’ve seen over and over again in my work is that new voices at the table can help bring new solutions to age-old problems. Women and girls experience life differently to men, as a rule, and from their different perspective they can sometimes see new ways of doing things.

So by supporting girls to get the education and health care they need, we can create new change-makers who are going to be at the heart of helping us change the much bigger picture. But we also need to start to change the bigger picture so that all girls, everywhere, can get what they need.

We can do both.

We can empower individual girls AND change the system. We can change our own buying and consumption patterns AND support developing communities to provide schools for their girls. We can donate to microfinancing projects that focus on young women AND lobby our governments to offer a fair deal to developing countries at global trade and climate change talks.

And it’s something I think we can all do more of. To find out more, visit The Girl Effect website –

Read some of the hundreds of other special Girl Effect blog posts being shared today as part of The Girl Effect blog campaign put together by the fabulous Tara Sophia Mohr

Take action

PS: Whatever you want to do will be enough.

PSS: Tomorrow we’ll talk about how taking care of yourself is part of this picture.


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7 Responses to "The Girl Effect"

  1. Roxanne says:

    I have watched that video before through one of your links and it is just as touching watching it again…

  2. Clare says:

    Thanks for these insightful comments, and for updates on Faezeh… xx

  3. Mandi says:

    I love that you’re putting the Girl Effect in to action. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Rupa says:

    Marianne, I love your explanation that we can both empower individual girls and change a system that makes it hard to do so. You write so beautifully and your hopefulness is contagious. Thank you. xo

  5. […] I wrote my Girl Effect post yesterday I wanted to remind you that the world can be made fairer, that girls everywhere can have […]

  6. I love knowing that girls around the world are dreaming of leading the U.N. That’s so powerful. And a bit of good news in the midst of all that is so deeply disturbing.

  7. […] dropped in on Marianne Elliott’s blog & found she was talking about ‘The Girl Effect’… this in turn lead me the […]

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