The Girl Effect: Partnering with Nike

Catholic Relief Services is improving the lives of adolescents in Rwanda and Zimbabwe. The Nike Foundation provided funding for CRS to study the impact of the programs on the lives of adolescent girls in the countries. This is part one in a four-part series about these programs.

By Patrick Carney

When a 12-year-old girl is living in poverty, her future is out of her control. In countries like Rwanda and Zimbabwe, many young girls are married by 14 and pregnant at age 15.

CRS, with the support of The Nike Foundation, is learning how to improve the lives of young women and girls so that entire communities are uplifted.

Investing in a girl’s education and providing her with the tools for economic empowerment builds results one girl at a time.

CRS supports adolescents through traditional education, vocational training and teaching farming skills, and including students in small savings and lending groups.

After years of helping these children, CRS released publications about its work in Rwanda and Zimbabwe that describe what programs were run, which aspects were successful and what could be done better in the future.

A primary goal of the Nike Foundation is to encourage learning and information sharing about how to best affect the lives of adolescent girls. CRS’ presentation of the publications in Washington hosted representatives from a number of humanitarian and donor agencies working in developing countries where girls are most vulnerable.

Now, with the benefit of experience and shared expertise, more young girls in Rwanda and Zimbabwe will have a chance to stay safe, finish their education, and make their own choices in life.

Patrick Carney is an associate web producer, writer and editor for Catholic Relief Services. He is based at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

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