Remember the “Girl Effect,” the Nike Foundation’s two-year-old initiative to encourage philanthropic and government investments in girls?
Thanks largely to a catchy video (below), the effort has become something of a phenomenon, succeeding in helping to make girls a bigger focus of global antipoverty efforts. But Anna Carella, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Vanderbilt University, writes on the Aid Watch blog that while the effort seems like a “godsend for those who have been working to improve the lives of women, it may actually be damaging to women.”
- It reinforces stereotypes that women are naturally more caring than men and doesn’t do anything to encourage men to do more at home.
- The video claims that putting more women to work will drive economic development—yet women already make up a bigger percentage of the workforce in poor countries than in industrialized ones, but development is stalled. “What poor countries need to stimulate sustainable growth are not women taking out loans to buy cows but better governance and better terms of trade with rich countries,” Ms. Carella says.
- Focusing on economic development prioritizes the well-being of the economy over the well-being of women.
- The video, with its images of flies buzzing around the word “girl,” reinforces the perception that women in poor countries need saving by the Western world.
The post has generated more than 35 comments on Aid Watch, some from people who appreciate Ms. Carella’s critique and others who disagree with her arguments.
What do you think?