Instead of being forced into early marriage in exchange for the supposed economic security of her family—a fancy term for "traded for cash or cows," as Kidan and 10 million other girls are each year—her job can help support the family; empowered by work, "she's more likely to seek health care, avoid HIV infection, and delay pregnancy," Eitel says, thus reducing her country's health-care burden.
In such countries as Bangladesh and India, studies draw a bright line from a literate, educated girl to the spread of democracy.
Her tactic for facing down corporate prejudice is the same as Eitel's for facing down international prejudice: Make the strategic case.
Mitchell believes that the League is the embodiment of a new, global women's movement.It's distinct from the first wave ("started by old broads like me, Hillary, and Gloria [Steinem]," says Mitchell) primarily because it's intergenerational and highly collaborative, focused on specific issues with specific solutions.Multiple studies over the past decade indicate that the facts are unquestionably on their side: If you train a woman in a particular skill and give her a microloan, or a way to build up some savings, she is more likely than a man to use her income to educate and care for her family and invest in the community.In rural Africa and India, one year of secondary schooling can raise a girl's future wages by 10% to 20%.Eitel summarizes, "Girls grow into women who are more likely to go to political meetings and organize on behalf of their community." And advocate for themselves.
As they are allowed to grow, they become workers who can help a country sustain itself—and thereby become a country that relies less on help from others. But the "members" of the League know that helping girls and women is never a straightforward affair.
"I was in this ridiculously poor part of Ethiopia," says Eitel, whose title at the time was vice president of corporate responsibility at Nike.
The founder and CEO, Phil Knight (along with future CEO Mark Parker), had tapped her to create a not-for-profit arm—but had not dictated a mission.
Maria Eitel, CEO of the Nike Foundation, is starting her tale at the beginning of her eight-year journey to save the world's girls.
She is telling me about one 13-year-old in particular, the very one who inspired her to invent the Girl Effect, a global initiative that in less than a decade has created or supported groundbreaking programming and research that has put the often-terrifying needs of indigent girls in the toughest parts of the world on the global agenda.
Pat Mitchell, CEO of the Paley Center for Media, is a 69-year-old award-winning journalist, inveterate connector, mentor, and longtime antiviolence advocate on behalf of girls and women.