Pregnant girls, poor girls

The Girl Effect continues to grab my attention. I have always wanted to work with a development organization or foundation that focuses on women and their issues. And I’m drawn to the fact that working with women and girls can help solve some of the biggest challenges in development.

This Poverty Matters blog posting asks: “Will the girl effect really help to combat poverty?”

A simple explanation of the girl effect is that several major development organizations, like the United Nations, believe that delaying marriage and childbirth in adolescent girls will lead to better conditions (education, health, work) that will reduce poverty. Mainly, these programs in developing regions.

For a thorough explanation of the big picture, check out

This articles considers fertility and adolescence in the U.K.  and determines that there is no real evidence of the girl effect.  The statistics don’t show a direct causal effect between delaying childbirth and poverty. But I wonder if we can really compare the UK or the US to African nations.

At the same time, she asks some great questions like: “Can we successful export this western policy’ of  controlling teenage pregnancies?”  (I’m paraphrasing here.)

What do you think? Is there a connection between teen pregnancy and poverty? If so, is it culturally inappropriate for development agencies to take steps to solve it?


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