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Thursday, February 11, 2010

'Girl Effect' is evident at DC SCORES, has a huge positive impact

Have you heard of the Girl Effect? The idea is that focusing on girls’ health and education in developing countries helps society at large. Access to education, economic stability and health can have significant positive effects on not only a girl’s life, but on her family, her community and her country.

Why is this? For one thing, when you educate a girl, later on her children are generally healthier and more likely to be in school themselves. Further, giving girls more education gives them a chance for more income. When girls and women earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it back into their families (as opposed to 30-40 percent for men). More income leads to more education, a healthier life, and over time, a better community for everyone.

This phenomenon is targeted toward developing countries where girls and young women are largely marginalized, but the principal is true for girls everywhere.

Take the example of DC SCORES. While we are a program for girls and boys, specifically giving girls the opportunity to play soccer on a team can have a huge impact. Regular physical activity not only improves a girl’s health, but girls who play sports perform better in school and have lower drop-out rates than their peers who don’t play sports.

Girls who play sports have higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. They also learn about teamwork, goal-setting and other achievement-oriented behaviors – skills that will help them succeed when they enter the workforce.

By participating on a soccer team, a girl can move forward. Combine this with DC SCORES’ other components -- poetry and service-learning – and the girl is not only exercising regularly and part of a team, but she is also learning how to express herself through poetry and spoken word and is working with her teammates, both boys and girls, to make her community a better place.

Imagine if every girl in Washington, DC, had access to a quality after-school program. She would be more likely to get better grades, go to college, get a good job, and reinvest in her family and community. She would also be less likely to become a teenage mother, suffer from health problems like obesity and heart disease and drop out of school.

Investing in girls is a smart thing to do. As the writers at The Girl Effect USA said, “Investing in girls will save the world.”


-- Written by Cielo Contreras, Development Associate

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