The Girl Effect

February 8, 2009 — 8 Comments

One of the most optimistic and exciting sessions at Davos was named The Girl Effect. After much effort by the Nike Foundation, run by Maria Eitel, and the UN Foundation the folks at Davos were pursuaded to have a plenary focused on how unlocking the potential of adolescant girls in all parts of the world could have tremendous social and economic impact.

The session was an interesting lesson in experience design. Conventionally Davos sessions go straight into introductions and statements by the panelists. This time two videos were shown that powerfully communicated the potenial of this movement. Before one word had been said by the panelists the audience was engaged. This made a big difference to the energy in the room and the sense of momentum that came from the session. Once again it was an example of the power of storytelling to open up opportunities. I hope the folks at Davos take note and make more use of good storytelling to set the scene for future panels.

You can see the Girl Effect video here.

Tim Brown


8 responses to The Girl Effect

  1. I am a graduate industrial design student at the art center college of design and am just starting my thesis on “Gender and Mobility”. The issue of adolescent girls not having access to an education came up and one of the biggest reasons for this is not only are women in developing nations the weaker sex, the young girls are the biggest burden on families. They are the first to be deprived of an education or health and in most cases considered an economical burden too. It would be nice to be able to design something for them which will change that and make the rest of the family look up to them, especially for bringing in money to the family.

  2. Nice:) I’m sending it to my sisters. And we gotta tell the girls too. Will help facebook it into action. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Research has shown that effective storytelling can motivate people to action more than analysis of statistics, logical arguments or daze-inducing ppt. slides. The girleffect website communicates powerful messages that will send world leaders, economists and researchers on a path to continue backing up work in this area with more data and the analyzing the yields that come out of this movement.This can be life transforming as a result of design thinking.

  4. HI Tom and everybody out there…….doing watsoever……

    the girl effect..welll….there are many of such organizations working on this porblem…and its very difficult to understand if this is the only solution they are able to find.

    why every org proposing this plan of gifting a cow..a loan…or something….
    Does everybody think alike ….. are we really humans…
    well……..i am looking and striving for better solutions…hope to find something soon.

    I am not able to appreciate the post.

  5. In terms of design, surely the videos were powerful because they directed a human issue to the audiences senses (sight, hearing, etc) to invoke an involuntary emotional response? Who would not have been engaged? I agree that storytelling here was important but I would argue that story-telling is just as important in presentations made with graphs and statistics which require objective analysis before any emotional response is achieved. The true success of this presentation appears to me to be more down to the design managers ability to pair the subject to the mechanism of presentation than anything related to the story presented?

  6. While I applaud the sentiment, I think this is going about it the wrong way. Firstly, the misandrist undertones are glaring. Husbands are listed alongside poverty? Secondly, it suggests that we should only help out girls in developing regions. What, are boys suddenly subhuman, unworthy of a hand up? I think this could set dangerous, one-sided, sexist precidents on a few levels. And the statistcs – from whence do they come? Let’s see some links to HARD DATA, please. Biased surveys lead to biased statistics. Feminists are notorious for the use of sloppy and\or “fudged” statistics. Let’s help out everybody, not just the girls.

  7. interesting viewpoints on the blog…

    Agree with a few about the emotional appeal and the threat of being sexist (and also the comment about whether that’s the only solution all the great minds thinking of this topic can come up with, I wonder that myself ha ha…)….but I believe all its saying is to give girls a fair chance to earn a living in one form another…and yes boys should be encourage as well but in many developing countries the bias is currently towards boys…all its saying is that bias needs to be addressed and equal chances offered to both sexes.

    There are a couple parts of the story that could be expanded on…like the loan and cow suggestion wouldn’t work in all societies as these girls would need jobs and then the issue would be much broader than just sending girls to school or giving them a cow..

    However for some girls just having a chance would be enough…and a chance can mean a safe place to live where they have the opportunity to meet their needs and fulfill their potential within the context of their society (like all of us blogging here)… In the UK Guardian newspaper this week there was an interesting video on girls in Haitian slums and their constant risk of being raped (you know there is no electricity in those slums so the threat is greater). One of the girls was four months pregnant…what’s going to happen to her baby? In all of Port au Prince there was only one crisis centre. These girls definitely need a chance, a chance to live without fear…and this case it might not be a cow it might be a series of shelters and trained staff…however the policy response should also include initiatives to rehabilitate the men….

  8. Why do some people see only the negative side of things? I dpn’t think the intention was sexist.
    This IS a great idea! And so simple too. It is worth trying. If it doesn’t work, so what – what we are doing now isn’t working either!
    Sometimes we miss things because the solution is too simple.

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