The “Girl Effect”: it’s not what you might think.

Inspired by a comment on an earlier post, I went in search of information on social investments to support women and girls, whether investments in education, health, microfinance, etc.

But I had never before heard the exact term the “Girl Effect“. (Yes, click and watch the video!)

I came across a commentary called “Understanding the Girl Effect” in defense of how this one action– delaying childbirth–does have the overall, or domino, effect of preventing poverty.

Here’s the statement that struck me hard: “…(in developing countries) pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for girls 15–19 years old”.

But there is more to the girl effect than the choice over when to give birth or preventing adolescent mothers’ deaths.

When young women delay childbirth, they may have an opportunity to receive more education for themselves. (And make a greater contribution to the economy.)

And there are positive effects on the children that are born to women that delay childbirth. The children are more likely to live, more likely to have better nutrition, and more likely also to have more education.

Finally, as the blog I linked to above points out, research has shown that women (say, these women that presumably live rather than die during adolescent childbirth) “are more likely than men to invest income back into their communities, spending their resources on nutritious food, medicine, education, and family needs”. In other words, they are more likely to act in ways that distribute resources and alleviate poverty.

I’m astounded to think how this one life change can have so many positive effects.

Given the chance, can girls change the world?


3 responses to this post.

  1. Wow, Julie, you hit it out of the ballpark on this one!
    Very thought provoking.
    I am betting the answer is a big yes.


  2. Thanks for introducing me to the term The Girl Effect.
    I’ve seen stories on how making small loans to women to start a small business produces good improvements and results in that woman’s whole family.
    Maybe starting even younger with girls and providing them with education and better control of their own destinies along with other opportunities is another step.
    Diane W


    • Hi Diane, Thanks for your comment. Yes, I’ve heard about the success of and even stated preference of micro-lending to women, too. I also read a little bit about good results of creating women’s saving circles. So, al the women put in the same amount of money, say $5. And then one women gets to use it as capital (same way she might use a loan) and pays it back into the circle within a certain time. It’s works because it is hard for one person to come up with, maybe, $35 all at once. With each contributing $5 it empowers the whole group. Cool, huh?!


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