The World Bank has announced a public-private partnership to promote the economic empowerment of adolescent girls in poor and post-conflict countries.
Launched as part of the World Bank's Gender Action Plan, the Adolescent Girls Initiative initially will provide up to a total of $30 million to six countries. The initiative will be piloted in Liberia through a partnership between the World Bank, the Nike Foundation, and the governments of Liberia and Denmark, and then be expanded over the coming year to Afghanistan, Nepal, Rwanda, south Sudan, and another country yet to be identified. In addition, project preparation studies will be conducted in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Papua New Guinea, both of which have been targeted as potential expansion sites.
A total of $20 million has been pledged to the initiative so far by its partners, which include the Nike Foundation ($3 million) and the governments of Norway ($3 million), Sweden ($3 million), and the United Kingdom ($2 million). The initiative has also received funding from the Clinton Global Initiative and the Cherie Blair Women's Foundation and is developing partnerships with Cisco, Standard Chartered, and Goldman Sachs.
"Today, adolescent girls in poor countries are generally better educated than they were twenty 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 overcome poverty. Investing in them is not only fair — it is a smart economic move."