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Empowering girls: why we must do more

Goal empowering girls

17 Jul 2017

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Girls have massive economic and leadership potential – if they are given the chance to get an education

The benefit of education to girls and their families is undeniable – better jobs, wages and health – and the positive impact on economies is widespread. That’s why, as a leading international bank, we’ve made it our mission to give girls in our markets equal opportunities.

A World Bank study on the effect of education on average wages estimates that primary education increases girls’ earnings by 5-15 per cent over their lifetimes.

Yet, on average, only a third of girls in the poorest households in low-income countries complete primary school, according to UNICEF. Poverty is the most significant factor holding girls back.

Our new mission – raising awareness to help more girls

Our Goal programme – founded in 2006 to provide life-skills training through sport – has helped more than 285,000 girls across more than 20 of our markets to date. This year, we’re taking our mission to a new level, aiming to reach 600,000 girls by the end of 2020.

However, with around 600 million adolescent girls around the world who need support ranging from access to education and getting a job to speaking up about violence and challenging social norms, a more coordinated approach is needed.

Aiming to foster more partnerships to help as many girls as possible, we’re holding our first ever summit on the economic impact of empowering girls. Taking place in South Africa tomorrow, the event brings together senior leaders, clients, NGOs, development organisations and ‘Goal girls’ from across the world.

“We want girls to believe that they can lead and influence their own futures. But one individual or one company can’t do it all alone. For us, raising awareness is as critical as having a dedicated programme to inspire girls and young women. For change to happen, it takes governments and businesses to come together,” says Natasha Kwakwa, Director of Standard Chartered’s Goal programme.

Goal girls

Meet the ‘Goal girls’: Miranda’s story

Talk is one thing, impact is another. The percentage of girls who believe they can lead and influence their own futures increased by 55 per cent in 2016, after they completed the Goal programme. There are incredible stories of girls who go from having no dreams to wanting to become doctors, policewomen, instructors and so much more.

Miranda, a ‘Goal girl’ based South Africa, felt she didn’t have many options until she joined the programme: “When I started the course, I had no idea what it could lead to. My family is poor, living in a deprived area, and I had little hope for my future. All of a sudden, I felt like I had options and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.”

Miranda aspired to become a professional diver and following her Goal experience, she managed to get on a diving course and is now qualified to organise and lead recreational scuba dives. She also now coordinates programmes for Goal, helping develop her leadership skills.

What is Goal?

Through a combination of sports and life skills training, our Goal programme aims to empower and equip girls aged between 12 and 19 with the confidence, knowledge and skills they need to be leaders in their families, communities and societies, across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

In the next year, we plan to expand our programme to include initiatives such as teaching girls English, digital literacy and employability and entrepreneurship skills, as well as provide seed funding for girls’ micro-enterprises.

Goal infographic