About Girl Effect


For over a decade, the NIKE Foundation, inspired by Nike’s belief in human potential, has been focused on investing in girls. In 2008 the NIKE Foundation in collaboration with NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and other partners, launched the Girl Effect movement. With the support of over 150 partners in 90 countries, NIKE Foundation and the Girl Effect movement have positively impacted the lives of millions of girls and influenced investment in them.

Girl Effect is now a new organisation, with continued support from the NIKE Foundation and multiple partners. The organisation works at scale and drives forward the ambition to reach 250 million girls living in poverty across the world by 2030, giving them the tools and access to the critical assets they need to achieve their full potential. Our mission? To change the world for girls and enable girls in their unique capacity to change the world.


Yegna group

Girl Effect works to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. We do this by connecting girls to each other and to the critical assets they need. We work to create lasting perception change by harnessing media in innovative ways and building social networks to develop girls’ positive perceptions of themselves and shift how others see and value them.

We take a girl-centred approach to the challenges they face. We know that girls need support in multiple areas to break the cycle of poverty – focusing on single issues will never be enough. Only a holistic approach will work, so we developed the 5+1 Theory of Change to put this into action.

5+1 Theory of Change

We believe there are 5 key assets that determine a girl’s reality and 1 critical catalyst – perception change – that inspires behaviour change that creates empowered lives. 

The 5 key assets are: Education, Health, Economic Security, Safety, and Voice and Rights 

When a girl is better educated, has access to sexual and reproductive healthcare information and services, has access and control of economic assets, is safe from violence and exploitation, and has the capabilities and confidence to make positive choices, she can break the cycle of poverty.

We add the catalyst of perception change to improve awareness and sensitivities of communities and families, and create an environment in which girls are better able to capitalise on the five assets.

Together, the 5+1 creates a virtuous cycle of change, lifting girls, their families and communities out of poverty. 


Girl Effect works with partners around the world to put girls on the global agenda and unlock the world’s systems for girls. Here are some examples of our work:

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.

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 communications, 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. 

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.   

Connecting Girls

We partner with the Facebook-led initiative Internet.org, bringing together technology leaders, non-profits and local communities to connect girls to the information and assets they need, and to each other. 

Girl Effect is building partnerships 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. Nine months in, we’re already live in 14 countries, sharing information and inspiration with more than two million girls and helping to unleash girls’ potential everywhere.

Girl Declaration

In our role as co-convener of the Girl Declaration Joint Advocacy Group, alongside United Nations Foundation and Plan International, we collaborate 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. 

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 highly rated radio drama and talk show in Ethiopia, and 'Ni Nyampinga', a popular radio and magazine brand in Rwanda. The campaigns feature 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.

2014 Girl Summit

Working alongside the UK Government, UNICEF and partners, we helped to deliver the UK’s first Girl Summit –mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. The Summit brought together governments, NGOs, private sector partners and media, shining a spotlight on the barriers that prevent girls from achieving their full potential. A year on, we continue to work with the Government of Ethiopia who made a comprehensive commitment to end FGM and CEFM within a generation, including helping to host the recent National Girl Summit in Addis Ababa.


We have offices based in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda. You can read more about our work in these places below.

We are also currently running or supporting projects in Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, India, Colombia, Philippines, Guatemala, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malawi, Bolivia, Angola, South Africa, Senegal, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. 


We created a multi-platform brand ‘Yegna’ (‘ours’ in Amharic), to kick-start a national conversation about the challenges and opportunities girls face. Yegna, the first teen brand in Ethiopia, is a radio drama, popular music and talk show that addresses issues such as violence against girls, forced child marriage, teenage pregnancy and school attendance, using role models to educate and shift attitudes and behaviours towards girls. With a growing following of over 1 million listeners, Yegna is changing social norms and connecting girls to the assets they need and to each other.


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.


We inspire girls to realise their potential through Ni Nyampinga, Rwanda’s first teen brand that means “the beautiful girl – inside and out – who makes good decisions”. Ni Nyampinga is reaching nearly half the country’s 1.2 million adolescent girls through a quarterly magazine, a weekly radio show, and a digital platform that delivers critical tools and information to girls throughout Rwanda. We are also a founding partner to the 12+ programme, a national programme of the Government of Rwanda’s Ministry of Health that supports teenage girls by providing safe spaces and teaching key life skills such as sexual and reproductive health, managing violence, and financial literacy. 


Maria Eitel, Chairman

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 brings 27 years of business experience from the private sector and creative industries. She was 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 joining the worldwide Board in NYC in 2007. She sat 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 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.

Lesley Pan, Acting Chief Operating Officer

After years in management consultancy Lesley brings business capabilities in strategy, operations and organisational development to public organisations. She is a passionate advocate for the rights of young people to be safe, healthy, and able to exercise the power of their own voice, and has worked with organisations such as the NSPCC, NHS England, and the Cabinet Office.

Virginia Rustique-Petteni, Senior Director of Relationships 

Virginia oversees Girl Effect’s global partnerships, communications, and advocacy. Joining the NIKE Foundation in 2013, she led its work on the Girl Declaration, an alliance of individuals and NGOs that successfully campaigned to embed girls in the 2015 development goals.

Virginia founded VRP Strategies, providing strategic advice to corporations, international non-profit organizations, private individuals and foundations. She worked in the White House in the Office of Legislative Affairs as a member of President Clinton’s team from 1996 to 1999, as special advisor to the US Ambassador to the UK and for Bloomberg LP. 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 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

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. 

Kari Stoever, Senior Director of Co-Investment

Kari is a global development expert with more than 15 years’ experience in public health start-ups and advocacy movements. She was the VP of External Affairs at Aeras, where she co-developed the world’s first blended capital financial model to support infectious disease R&D.  She helped establish the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), and contributed in the development of a USG $1 billion, 5-year strategy for NTDs.

In 2010 she received the distinguished Stevie Award for Women in Business - Best Executive – Service Businesses – up to 2,500 employees. She holds a B.Sc. from George Washington University, a degree in nursing, and an Executive Masters in Leadership from the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University.



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


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.



  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 internet.org, 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.


  • 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.