Last month, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Ford Foundation, Show of Force, and Games for Change launched the Half the Sky Movement Media and Technology Engagement Initiative. Over the next two years, this initiative will work to create behavior change toward gender issues in India and Kenya through an integrated media campaign. It will use a combination of traditional and social media, which has been demonstrated to be a powerful approach for shifting gender-related norms and behavior.
This new alliance builds on an initiative developed in collaboration with authors of the best-selling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
The initiative is focused on advancing gender equality, which is increasingly being recognized as a key factor in improving development outcomes. Each additional year of education for women reduces child mortality by 18 per thousand births. When women cannot fully engage in the labor force, either by law or custom, GDP growth can suffer by as much as two percent.
Gender equality makes sense not just for the woman herself, but for her family, community and the economy of her country. Yet in many low- and moderate-income countries, women and girls struggle for equal access to healthcare, education, and professional opportunities.
"Educate girls and you change the future for a nation”, said Maura O'Neill, USAID's Chief Innovation Officer. “Give women all the economic opportunities that men have and within a generation a strong middle class will emerge. It is just that simple".