Learning to Unleash; A Day With the Girl Effect

Annie Plotkin - Brazil


September 12, 2011

On the morning that the Nike Girl Effect came to Stanford, eleven of us debated about whether the card that said “financial reserves that can be used for an emergency” should go under responsibilities for a girl that was 14 or 16. Then we discussed the card that said, “should know the national marriage laws” and whether it should go under 10 or 12 years old. Only after we had completed the chart for the ideal timeline of a girl living in an impoverished area did we receive the full impact of what was expected of a girl in third world countries. At 12, I had a few quarters lying on the floor of my room that would only be collected when I went to buy candy. At 10, I thought marriage was merely a way to get adults to leave their parents’ house.  To hope that a 10 year old would know how to fight off a child marriage seemed wrong, but also out of reach for so many.

The day we spent with Kaia, Asia, and Jaimie from the Nike Foundation was one of the many that brought to light all the work that our generation has to do. The Nike Girl Effect Day began with a PowerPoint about the foundation and why it is imperative to give girls in third world countries opportunities and choices and closing their “trapdoors” between each of their goals. These “trapdoors” are barriers that block girls from reaching the next step to their success, such as the family not spending money on the girl’s education or getting forced into child marriage.

The activities that followed the slideshow were an interactive one mentioned before and answering discussion questions in groups. During the first activity, we were to place cards that had different milestones, such as knowing how to counter sexual abuse and invest in a business to keep a stable income under different ages from 10-20 for girls in developing nations. The discussion questions we answered after in groups brought to light several different instances we had all experienced of sexism, whether it b ein the work place, school, or occurred to someone we know.

The discussions about child marriage, domestic abuse, and the effects of poverty on females illuminated what I want to focus on in my time in Brazil. The videos created by the Nike foundation about the effects of empowering 12 year olds gave all the fellows hope that even with the smallest gesture- showing a woman respect on the street, creating a safe environment- a girl’s future can be changed for the better, and her community will do the same as a result.

Jaimie went over more small gestures we could do that could add up to a movement by presenting us with the opportunity to use social media as a way to promote the Girl Effect. Fellows will have the amazing opportunity to tweet, blog, Facebook, and take videos of every experience where we witness the Girl Effect taking place. Giving girls in developing nations a voice is the most important and yet easiest act we can take to improve the lives of women and girls around the world, and the Global Citizen Year Fellows are lucky to have the opportunity to make an impact.

Annie Plotkin