April 30, 2013
Over the next two years, the Half the Sky Movement Media and Technology Engagement Initiative will work through an integrated media campaign “to inspire and create lasting change for women and girls in India and Kenya,” USAID Chief Innovation Officer Maura O’Neill wrote in an agency blog post April 29.
Gender equality is increasingly being recognized as a key factor in improving development outcomes. Each additional year of education for women reduces child mortality by 18 per 1,000 births. When women cannot fully engage in the labor force, either by law or custom, GDP growth can suffer by as much as 2 percent, according to USAID.
“Gender equality makes sense not just for the woman herself, but for her family, community and the economy of her country,” USAID said in an April 29 press release. “Yet in many low- and moderate-income countries, women and girls struggle for equal access to health care, education and professional opportunities.”
The new alliance builds on an initiative developed in collaboration with authors of the bestselling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
“Educate girls and you change the future for a nation,” O’Neill said. “Give women all the economic opportunities that men have, and within a generation a strong middle class will emerge. It is just that simple.”