about girl effect

our mission

The world is systematically passing on poverty from generation to generation while neglecting the one group with the unique potential to break this cycle: adolescent girls. 

Girl Effect began as a movement to help change this. We launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos 2009 with the Clock is Ticking film that challenged people to think differently about the role girls play in development. Championed by the NIKE Foundation in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and multiple partners, we set out to get the world to stop seeing girls as part of a global poverty problem and to see them instead as co-creators of new solutions. 

We helped put girls at the centre of the agenda. Ahead of the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, our Girl Declaration helped ensure girls' place in the post-2015 development agenda: the Goals focus on girls like never before.

In September 2015, Girl Effect became a new organisation focused on driving measurable change in girls' lives, with continued support from the NIKE Foundation and multiple partners.

Our mission? To change the world for girls, so that girls can change the world.

what we do

Girl Effect pioneers an integrated brand approach that reframes the value of girls and shapes new social norms that break the cycle of poverty.

We want to help create a 'new normal' for girls. A world in which girls are not held back from reaching their full potential: either by themselves, their families or their communities. A world in which girls can stay in school, get access to health services, get married and have children when they choose, realise their economic potential and their dreams: because they demand it and because the others in their lives demand it, for them too.

Through the latest ideas in branding and technology, we've developed a new kind of brand. A brand that attracts, connects and empowers girls at scale and changes the way millions of people think, feel and act towards them. 

how we work

Girl Effect works to reframe the value of girls in society. Here are some examples of our work. 

New media brands

In partnership with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) we have created pioneering and innovative new media brands, including 'Yegna', a music driven drama and talk show in Ethiopia, and  'Ni Nyampinga', a magazine, radio and mobile brand in Rwanda. The content features characters and real-life role models who convey powerful messages on health, welfare, domestic violence and education. Through their engaging content and outreach, these brands provoke conversations about and among girls, so that they see themselves differently, improving their self-confidence and the perceptions their communities have of what they can achieve.

Connecting Girls

Girl Effect mobile leverages the unprecedented growth of mobile connectivity and pre-existing networks to connect girls to the information and assets they need, and to each other. Girl Effect is building partnerships with the Facebook-led initiative Free Basics, technology leaders, non-profits and local communities to ensure girls are not left behind in this ambition. 

Together we are removing barriers and working to give the unconnected girls of the world access to the same knowledge, tools and innovation as everybody else. Girl Effect is currently live in 38 countries, available in 24 languages, and supported by 48 mobile operators across the world.

Data gathering

Data is vital in the development of effective programmes, and we place girls at the centre of our research and evaluative processes. Our girl advocates and ambassadors work with us through participatory forms of research and exchange, from community level up to national and even global dialogue. Working in collaboration with global development experts, we strive for innovative approaches to data gathering that ensure the most hard to reach girls can have their needs represented and voices heard.  

Tackling AIDS

Over 80% of adolescents with new HIV infections in the world's hardest hit countries are girls. Girl Effect is taking action to halt the spread of the global AIDS epidemic, partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through a $210 million partnership.

We are helping to design strategies in HIV prevalent countries, which are focused specifically on girls. Using innovative brand and media methodologies, our ambition is to reach new audiences to challenge and change existing behaviours, transforming a girl's life and accelerating efforts to achieve an AIDS-free future for girls.

Making the SDGs work for girls

The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals will influence trillions of dollars of policy-spend for the world's next generation. For this next development agenda to have lasting impact, the voices of girls must be heard, and their dreams and desires for the future must be reflected. Now is the moment to convert commitment into action. We must not stop until girls are embedded in the SDGs, and decision-makers are held accountable to girls in the resourcing, programme design, implementation and measurement of the new development agenda.

Girl Declaration

In our role as co-convener of the Girl Declaration Joint Advocacy Group, alongside United Nations Foundation and Plan International, we collaborated with 15 organisations operating in over 170 countries around the world to help deliver one shared goal: embed adolescent girls in the global agenda. We have been equipping partners and supporters to drive the Girl Declaration forward nationally and globally.

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Our in-country work

  • Ethiopia

    Girl Effect Ethiopia's mission is to enable Ethiopia's adolescent girls (aged 10-19) to fulfil their potential. The starting point for everything Girl Effect Ethiopia does is to understand what it means to be a girl in Ethiopia. Our research uses engaging and participatory approaches to better understand girls' lives, aspirations and challenges. We work with policy makers, donors and partners in the private sector, who can deliver large-scale programs and ensure girls are at the heart of the development agenda in Ethiopia.

  • Nigeria

    We work with leaders and innovators to enable northern Nigerian girls to make a healthy transition to adulthood. We are working with numerous partners, including the Federal Ministry of Education, to develop standardised safe spaces curriculum which, when rolled out at scale, will help young girls gain access to the social, economic and health assets they need. Through the "ENGINE" (Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprises) programme we are working in partnership with Coca-Cola, Department for International Development and Mercy Corps to bolster the educational and economic opportunities of more than 10,000 marginalised girls and young women. To inform our programmes and the programming of our partners, we are also pioneering new approaches to gathering insights from girls, leveraging the power of mobile technology to empower Northern Nigerian girls to conduct research in their own communities through our Technology Enabled Girl Ambassador (TEGA) programme.

  • Rwanda

    Girl Effect Rwanda's mission is to enable all of Rwanda's adolescent girls (aged 10-19) to fulfil their potential. We work across four areas: partnering with leaders to deliver for girls; developing innovations in girl programming; working through our brand platform Ni Nyampinga to inspire and enable girls; and generating girl-led insights and evidence. Our work aims to encourage investments that will benefit Rwandan girls - in systems, culture, government and industry. 

who we are

  • Maria Eitel


    Maria Eitel


    Maria Eitel, Chairman of Girl Effect and Co-Chair of the NIKE Foundation. Under Maria's leadership as President & CEO, the NIKE Foundation - in partnership with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and other partners, created the Girl Effect - a movement to tackle world poverty at its greatest point of leverage, the adolescent girl. 

    Eitel joined NIKE in 1998 as its first Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. She brought to NIKE a rich professional background - first as a television reporter and producer, then with the White House as special assistant to the President for media affairs, followed by MCI, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Microsoft where she led corporate affairs for their European operations. 

    She is recognised as a global leader in the development community and has been featured on the cover of Fast Company for their "League of Extraordinary Women" edition. 

    Eitel earned her M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and B.A. from Quebec's McGill University. She also graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program and has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanity degree from Babson College.

  • Farah Ramzan Golant

    Chief Executive Officer

    Farah Ramzan Golant

    Chief Executive Officer

    Farah brings 27 years of business experience from the private sector and creative industries. She served as Chief Executive of All3Media between 2012 and 2014, and previous to this had a 22-year career at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, becoming its Chief Executive in 2005 and joined the worldwide Board in NYC in 2007. She served on the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Group from 2013 to 2015, has served as a Business Ambassador for the Creative Industries of Britain and is currently a Trustee of Save the Children. She sits on the advisory board of the Cambridge Judge Business School and is a Non-Executive Director of Huntsworth PLC. She was awarded a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011 for Services to Advertising.

  • Howard Taylor

    Managing Director

    Howard Taylor

    Managing Director

    Howard joined the NIKE Foundation in 2012 as Vice President and Managing Director. Prior to Nike, he held senior roles across the UK Government, including at the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Prime Minister's Performance and Innovation Unit. He led DFID's largest programmes in India and Ethiopia, and ran Top Management Group and the office of the Secretary of State. In Ethiopia, he co-chaired the Development Assistance Group, co-ordinating the most impactful investment of over $3 billion/year of official development assistance to Ethiopia.

    A widely respected expert in the development sector, Howard brings his experience in accelerating growth and development to Girl Effect's work.

  • Virginia Rustique-Petteni

    Senior Director of Relationships

    Virginia Rustique-Petteni

    Senior Director of Relationships

    Virginia oversees Girl Effect's global partnerships, communications, marketing and investor relations. Joining the NIKE Foundation in 2013, she led the creation of the Girl Declaration, an alliance of individuals and NGOs that gave voice to girls and successfully campaigned to embed them in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

    Virginia founded VRP Strategies, providing strategic advice to corporations, international non-profits, private individuals and foundations. She worked in the Clinton White House in the Office of Legislative Affairs, as special advisor to the US Ambassador to the UK and for Bloomberg LP in corporate relations.

    She is a Commissioner of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, an American Director of the Royal Foundation for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, and on the North American Advisory Board for Chatham House. Virginia received her undergraduate degree in History from University of Chicago.

  • Matt Freeman

    Senior Director of Programmes

    Matt Freeman

    Senior Director of Programmes

    Matt oversees the development and delivery of Girl Effect's country programming. Before joining Girl Effect, Matt was Director of Business Engagement at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

    Matt began his development career with the US Government. This included roles at the US Department of State - supporting the Secretary's Global Partnership Initiative, and at USAID - working with bilateral donors on policy and program coordination, supporting Ministerial level engagement and leading on key global initiatives including the revitalized US-EU Development Dialogue. Matt served on the US Government's Haiti Task Force, leading the coordination with multi-stakeholder partners to support reconstruction and development following the January 2010 earthquake. Matt studied law at the University of San Francisco and received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from UCLA. 

  • Colman Chamberlain

    Senior Director of Connectivity

    Colman Chamberlain

    Senior Director of Connectivity

    Operating at the intersection of design and development, Colman has spent the last decade transforming organisations and working with entrepreneurs to tackle the most significant social and economic challenges of our time. A creative rooted in a human-centred approach, Colman has founded two companies, worked for Morgan Stanley, Clinton Foundation, and NIKE Foundation, among others, and currently advises several other foundations and social enterprises.

    Colman is most in his element when co-designing solutions with girls and frontline innovators in the field. He coaches Design Thinking at schools such as the Stanford University d.school and Maryland Institute of College & Art, and is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. Colman holds BA and MS degrees in International Affairs from Trinity College and Columbia University, respectively. 

  • Mark Sanderson

    Senior Director, Media

    Mark Sanderson

    Senior Director, Media

    Mark oversees Girl Effect's brand and media work. He manages the existing brands Ni Nyampinga and Yegna and the creation of brands in new geographies. Having joined Nike Foundation in 2011, Mark led the design and execution of our youth media property Yegna, living in Ethiopia for 3 years. Mark draws on experience in marketing and advertising across a range of global brands as well as several years running his own media and information business. He recently completed a post graduate course in Sustainability Leadership at Cambridge University, holds a MA in Business from Durham University and a BA in Classics from Newcastle University.

  • Kanwal Ahluwalia

    Interim Senior Director, Impact

    Kanwal Ahluwalia

    Interim Senior Director, Impact

    Kanwal oversees Girl Effect's Impact Team which brings together evidence, learning and insights from adolescent girls to ensure sustained change for girls. The Impact team ensures rigour in the data and evidence that underpins all of our work.

    Kanwal brings 20 years experience of international development and humanitarian relief programmes in Africa, Asia and SE Europe, working for a range of organisations including ChildHope, the Overseas Development Institute, Womankind Worldwide and Plan UK. Her specific expertise is in policy and programmes promoting girls' and women's rights and gender equality, as well as organisational development, particularly gender mainstreaming. Kanwal holds a number of voluntary positions including the Co-chair of the UK Gender and Development Network. She received her postgraduate degree in Development Studies from Royal Holloway, University of London.


  1. Nike Foundation focuses on adolescent girls as the unexpected solution to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

  2. The Coalition for Adolescent Girls is founded by the United Nations Foundation and Nike Foundation to address adolescent girls' need for support. Today, over 40 international organisations are members.

  3. NIKE Foundation and partners support the launch of 'Berhane Hewan', a pilot programme for 11,000 girls to delay child marriage in rural Ethiopia by addressing the economic and social drivers of child marriage. An impact evaluation showed that in the village of Mosebo, girls aged 10 to 14 who had taken part in the programme were nearly three times more likely to be in school compared to girls of the same age who had not. The success of 'Berhane Hewan' helped to inform a larger programme for girls, run by the Ethiopian Government.

  4. The Girl Effect movement is launched to global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos as the NoVo Foundation and NIKE Foundation commit $100M for girls. The Girl Effect film captures the world's attention.

  5. The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and NIKE Foundation collaborate to launch Girl Hub - to bring together the expertise of both organisations to transform the lives of adolescent girls. Girl Hub operates in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda, and advocates globally for girls.

    The Clock is Ticking video launches at the Clinton Global Initiative to international acclaim.

  6. Girl Hub launches Ni Nyampinga in Rwanda, the first branded media platform of its kind to inspire girls to realise their potential. Seven months later, Ni Nyampinga magazine becomes the country's largest media publication.

    The World Bank publishes 'Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls; the Girl Effect Dividend', the first paper of its kind, which finds that enabling girls to complete secondary education dramatically boosts national GDP.

  7. Girl Hub hosts a technical experts' meeting about research, evidence gaps and methodological issues on adolescent girls.

    DFID announces the Global Girl Research Initiative (GGRI), a £31m commitment over eight years to generate new research and evidence.

  8. Over 500 girls from 14 countries around the world take part in the Girl Consultations, which lead to the launch of the Girl Declaration - a call to action to put girls at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.

    Meanwhile, Girl Hub launches Yegna in Ethiopia, a multi-platform drama, music, and talk show brand inspiring positive change for girls in Ethiopia through storylines that confront real-life. Six months later Yegna's song, "Abet", which means 'we are here' in Amharic, is voted Single of the Year in the Sheger FM Listener's Choice awards.

  9. Girl Effect supports the Department for International Development and UNICEF to convene the first ever Girl Summit to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation FGM) and Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) within a generation. More than 180 organisations and individuals made commitments to end FGM and CEFM and the Girl Summit Charter has been signed by 43 governments.

    The US President's office announces a new $210m 'DREAMS' partnership initiative on World AIDS Day between the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the NIKE Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce the number of new HIV/AIDS infections among adolescent girls in 10 countries across Africa by delivering an integrated package of interventions alongside behaviour change to transform the lives of vulnerable girls and achieve an AIDS-free future.

    Girl Effect announces partnership with Free Basics, a Facebook-led initiative which aims to connect the two thirds of the world that don't have internet access, connecting girls across the globe.

  10. Maria Eitel takes on new role as Chairman of Girl Effect. Eitel remains an executive at NIKE, Inc. and Co-Chair of the NIKE Foundation.

    Girl Effect launches as an independent organisation, led by new CEO Farah Ramzan Golant, who will lead the next phase of growth, building up on existing and new partnerships to increase the impact of the movement globally.

    Following a 3 year Girl Declaration campaign, adolescent girls feature front and centre in the new Sustainable Development Goals - a landmark once-in-a-generation commitment by 193 global leaders that holds the potential to change the world for girls by 2030.

    Girl Effect also partnered with the UK's Department for International Development, the Nike Foundation, and USAID to create SPRING ACCELERATOR a pioneering accelerator that supports businesses whose products and services could transform the lives of adolescent girls. Our mission is to reach 200,000 girls in 8 countries by 2019. 

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contact us

media enquiries

[email protected]
+44 20 3003 6510

General, HR and recruitment enquiries

Get in touch via our Contact page

General: +44 20 7578 0646 

HR and recruitment: +44 20 7578 0647