October 10, 2008

Adolescent Girls Initiative Launched

WASHINGTON (October 10, 2008) – In advance of the World Bank annual meeting, today World Bank President Robert Zoellick and NIKE, Inc. (NYSE: NKE) President and CEO Mark Parker launched the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI), an innovative public-private partnership to increase economic opportunities for adolescent girls in post-conflict and developing countries.  

The AGI is being piloted in Liberia through a collaboration of the Nike Foundation, the World Bank and the Governments of Denmark and Liberia. It will be expanded next year to include Afghanistan, Nepal, Rwanda and South Sudan.

“Girls are key for the economic future of our country,” said Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. “We are proud of being the first country to adopt the Adolescent Girls Initiative, and we want others to join us in expanding this effort to improve the economic future of girls and young women around the world.”

“Today, adolescent girls in poor countries are generally better educated than they were 20 years ago. But they remain far behind boys when it comes to the workplace,” said World Bank President Robert. B. Zoellick. “Investing in adolescent girls is precisely the catalyst poor countries need to break intergenerational poverty and to create a better distribution of income. Investing in them is not only fair, it is a smart economic move.”

The program targets girls specifically because of the girl effect – the ability of adolescent girls in developing countries to bring unprecedented economic and social change to their families, communities and countries. For example, research has shown that girls and women reinvest 90 percent of their income back into their families, as compared to 35 to 40 percent for males.

“Investments in girls are an investment in everyone’s future. It is girls’ life trajectories that determine the health, education, wealth and success of each generation,” said Maria Eitel, President of the Nike Foundation. “The AGI will unleash older girls’ potential as powerful economic actors and ultimately prove the girl effect.”

The Initiative provides funding of $3 to 5 million (US) per country.  It is designed to spark high-leverage investments in adolescent girls by donor governments, foundations and corporate partners. Those committing resources to the Initiative today include:

  • The Nike Foundation $3M

  • Denmark $5M

  • Norway $3M

  • Sweden $3M

  • United Kingdom £2M

  • City of Milan $3M

Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered and Cisco were among the private-sector partners calling for investments in girls to promote growth and stability in post-conflict countries.

The Initiative will identify employment needs in post-conflict and developing countries, and provide relevant skills training to adolescent girls, matched to paying jobs. The emphasis is on employment in high-growth and high-need sectors, such as agriculture, entrepreneurship, emerging industries, urban services, infrastructure, public works and health care.

The training offered to girls ages 16 to 24 will focus on technical skills, and the integration of life-skills training to address crucial barriers to the development of adolescent girls’ economic independence.

About Nike and the Nike FoundationNIKE, Inc. (www.nikeinc.com) based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. The Nike Foundation (www.nikefoundation.org) is a non-profit organization supported by NIKE, Inc., that is dedicated to investing in adolescent girls as the most powerful force for change in the developing world.

About the World Bank and the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI)The World Bank is one of the world's largest sources of funding for the developing world. Its primary focus is on helping the poorest people and the poorest countries. To help break inter-generational cycles of poverty, the World Bank together with member governments and partners such as the Nike Foundation is launching a new public-private initiative for adolescent girls, seeking to smooth the transition from school to salaried jobs. In a pilot phase, a first project in Liberia will be followed in at least five other countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

About girleffect.orggirleffect.org tells the story of girls creating a ripple impact on their families, communities and nations. Created by the Nike Foundation, it provides the tools for girl champions to spread the word.