Sport as Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls
Head, Education and Girls Programmes, Standard Chartered
No single entity can address an international development challenge in isolation. Effective interventions require a suite of resources, networks, expertise, and experience, and no one institution has the human and financial capital required. The challenges girls and women face are no exception. Any sustainable, truly impactful effort to empower women and girls requires a multitude of players to collaborate and specialise.
In 2006, Standard Chartered recognised the vulnerability of adolescent girls across our footprint and resolved to get involved. It was the right thing to do, but it was also the smart thing to do. The business case for enabling adolescent girls was irrefutable: it was linked to our need to recruit from a skilled workforce and to develop the next generation of potential customers who will have rising incomes and demand for products and services – creating new markets and new opportunities for growth. 63% of the Bank’s footprint were low income, low gender equality countries, so we were well positioned to replicate and scale an effective programme across relevant markets.
We set out to create a meaningful educational programme for adolescent girls aged 12-20 from low income families in urban areas and opted to start in India, where gender equity was staggering. At the onset, we recognised we didn’t have the relationships or the expertise to enable adolescent girls alone, so we enlisted the help of a local NGO in India, the Naz Foundation, to build trust in the community and a plethora of global educational experts to design and write the programme. The model of collaboration and specialisation worked. Our education partners were able to create a compelling and relevant curriculum; Naz was able to identify, recruit a population of girls, and we were able to lend financial support and employee volunteers to enhance the execution of the programme. It was clear that we each needed to do what we were best at to achieve sustainable, meaningful results. Goal, an innovative educational and life skills programme that utilised sports as a tool of engagement, was born.
Our India programme was a success, and so we scaled to new countries including Nigeria with the Youth Employment Foundation and Zambia with Edusport and NOWSPAR. As the programme matured and expanded, we recognised the need to adapt the partnership model.
By 2011, Standard Chartered was working with a group of grassroots organisations in multiple countries, but managing a diverse portfolio of local NGOs and helping them to build their capacity wasn’t our core strength. Recognising we needed further specialisation, we sought a global partner who could not only help us coordinate our network of local NGOs, but who could assist us in improving the substance of the programme and its approach to measurement and evaluation.
Enter Women Win, an internationally recognised centre of excellence on gender and sport.
Since 2007, they have listened to and worked with girls and women, boys and men, community leaders and programme partners, and donors and investors to advance the cause of sport as a powerful strategy to address gender inequity and empower adolescent girls and young women.
Women Win helped us to streamline operations, refine the curriculum, and improve our communications and advocacy through social media. Today, they play an even greater role in influencing our geographic expansion and NGO local partner selection. In July of this year, for example, Women Win helped us launch Goal in Uganda through local implementing partner, BRAC.
In 2013, Standard Chartered made a commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative to expand the scale of the programme to reach a total of 600,000 girls by the end of 2018; the commitment also included a promise the deepen the impact of the programme by enhancing the curriculum and adding elements of employability and entrepreneurship.
We now have our work cut out for us, but it’s also an opportunity to bring more people and institutions along with us on the journey. We recently asked the International Youth Foundation to assist us in adding the employability proposition, and now we are working with some of our key clients to generate work experience opportunities for Goal peer leaders.
The Goal programme will continue to evolve as will our model for partnerships. The larger and more ambitious the programme becomes, the more complex our partnership and governance approach. But that’s okay, because ultimately it will enable us to make a game changing impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of girls across Africa and indeed the world.