Providing Education for Girls and Employment Opportunities for Women: Deepa Willingham at the World Bank

If you want to provide more opportunities to girls, you shouldn’t only provide them with an education – you also need to change perceptions of gender roles so that, when they grow up, girls can (among other things) fully contribute to the household’s livelihood. To achieve this, combining education with interventions for entrepreneurship and employment is the right way to go.  This messages emerges not only from impact evaluations, but also from experiences on the ground and case studies of non-governmental organizations.

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PACE Universal Website Photo – Program Participants

In celebration of International Women’s DayDeepa Willingham, a Rotarian and the founder of a program called Promise of Assurance to Children Everywhere or PACE, participated in a World Bank event on March 8 about inspiring women who made a difference in the world through innovative programs in the areas of education and health.

PACE is educating girls ages three to twenty-three in a village in West Bengal, India. The school started and remains small, with a total of about 350 girls enrolled since 2003. But retention rates are at 90 percent and almost 100 girls have now completed primary school. The schools currently admits 25 students each year, well below the demand as the school receives 100 applications each year.  Admission is need-based in order to give priority to the most disadvantaged families.

What I find especially interesting is the fact that, based on community feedback, PACE has started to help women in the village find decent work through various initiatives. To help expand employment opportunities in the village, PACE is providing literacy and vocational training courses for women, many of whom go on to craft jewelry products sold locally and in the US thanks to a micro-loan.

Additional income generating activities include planting 10,000 fruit bearing trees and providing cycle-vans. Recently, an organic garden was initiated on the school’s grounds as a training facility for local farmers.  PACE has also been actively upgrading water and sanitation facilities by installing 35 tube wells and 400 sanitation units. Without safe water at home, deworming children in the school did not work as well.

Deepa explained to me that when the project started, family incomes in the village were extremely low. There are signs that this has changed for the families that have benefited from the NGO’s programs, with many families making three to four times more than what they used to  bring in (according to the families’ applications for their children to enroll in the school).

The attitudes of fathers towards their daughters have changed, as measured for example by their presence during the school’s cultural activities. Also, in the past many newborn girls in the village did not get birth certificates. This is changing simply because an official birth certificate is required for admission in the school.

Is the project cost effective? The cost for the package of services provided to girls is $375 and paid mostly through grants and other resources raised by the NGO. This package of services includes not only schooling (following a board approved curriculum), two meals per day, school supplies and uniforms, access to health care as needed, and after school enrichment programs in music, art, theater, yoga and life-skills training.

How does this compare to public schools? This is not an easy question to answer, because of complex funding by federal, state, and municipal governments for basic services as well as complementary programs (such as school meals for example). Estimates from various studies can be found through a rapid search on the web. It seems that overall PACE’s programs may be more costly than a typical public school, and also more costly than the programs implemented by low cost private schools. But the range of services provided by PACE is clearly broader, and quality is likely to be (much) higher.

As for PACE’s services for women, their cost is estimated at $175 per year. This includes the cost of the adult literacy program for reading, writing in Bengali, and accounting, as well as the vocational training program for jewelry making and tailoring.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, at least two important lessons emerge from PACE. The first lesson is that we can learn from the experience of NGOs like PACE on how to combine multiple interventions – in education, but also in vocational training and basic health, in order to make a larger impact in the life of girls by changing attitudes towards gender roles. The second, and most important lesson is that beyond the important role of the state that we often emphasize in development work, committed individuals such as Deepa can truly make a difference in the life of girls and women.

A recording of the event at the World Bank in celebration of International Women’s Day will soon be available here in case you could not watch it online on March 8.

This post is adapted with minor changes from a post published on March 8 on the World Bank’s Education for Global Development blog.

World Bank Live To Feature Rotarian Women of Action

 

On March 8, in celebration of International Women’s Day, World Bank Live will feature a discussion with inspiring Rotarians who have made a difference in the world. Hosted and sponsored by the World Bank Group Staff Association, the session will illustrate the power of women to change the world and improve the lives of the less fortunate through innovative and impactful projects in the areas of education and health.

The event will take place from 2 PM to 3 PM in the World Bank Preston Auditorium in Washington DC. The event will also be streamed online, so you can watch from wherever you are. Please do not hesitate to share this blog post with friends and other Rotarians who might be interested in this event, and maybe even ask you Club or District leaders to spread the word. This promises to be a great event.

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What Is World Bank Live and How Do I Connect?

The World Bank Group aims to eradicate extreme poverty within a generation by 2030. It consists of five organizations: (1) the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development which lends to governments of middle-income and creditworthy low-income countries; (2) the International Development Association which provides interest-free loans and grants to governments of the poorest countries; (3) the International Finance Corporation which finances investment, mobilizes capital in international financial markets, and provides advisory services to businesses and governments; (4) the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency which offers political risk insurance (guarantees) to investors and lenders; and finally (5) the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes which provides international facilities for conciliation and arbitration of investment disputes.

World Bank Live is the web streaming platform used by the World Bank Group to enable citizens worldwide to participate in high level events online. The platform enables viewers not only to follow the event, but also to post comments online as part of an interactive discussion. In order to connect to the March 8 event “Inspiring Women of Action: A Celebration of International Women’s Day”, simply click here.

Who Will Be the Speakers?

Three speakers will be featured.

Marion jennifer deepa

 

 

 

Marion Bunch is the Chief Executive Officer of the Rotarian Action Group Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention. Marion has received numerous awards on behalf of her work for AIDS, and considers herself a mother who represents the face of AIDS because she started her work after losing her son to the disease in 1994. One of her signature programs has been the organization of Family Health Days in several developing countries where families receive free consultations and health care.

Jennifer Jones is the President and CEO of Media Street Productions Inc., a television production company. She is also a Director on Rotary International’s global board. Through Rotary, she has successfully transferred her professional skills into her volunteer life including several Rotary missions where she has created documentaries and taught journalism and ethics classes in Brazil, Tanzania and Haiti. She has also participated in Rotaplast medical missions in Venezuela and Peru.

Deepa Willingham is also a Rotarian and the Founder and Chair of Promise of Assurance to Children Everywhere (PACE). Born and raised in India, Deepa worked in the United States, and then returned to India. PACE Universal is an organization dedicated nurturing the educational, health, nutritional, social and cultural development of girls in impoverished areas of India and other parts of the world.

The panelists will be introduced by Daniel Sellen, the Chair of the World Bank Group Staff Association. Daniel has been in the World Bank for twenty years, the last twelve of which based in Delhi, Abidjan, and Bogotá. He is the proud father of two daughters, who give him extra reason to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The event is organized by a team led by Eva Ruby de Leon, Christian Bergara, and Clara Montanez.

May I Attend the Event in Person if I Live near Washington, DC?

If you are watching the event online, no registration is needed.

If you would like to attend in person, limited seating is available. To attend in person, unless you are a World Bank staff, spouse, or retiree, you need to register ahead of time so that a security pass can be prepared for you. To register for the event in person, please click here.

We hope many of you will be able to attend in person if you are in the area, or watch the event online. Please don’t hesitate to send me an email through the Contact Me page of this blog if you have any question.