A Look Back: Making a Difference for Women and Girls in 2011

Article Date

20 December 2011

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

ICRW marked its 35th anniversary in 2011, and as the year draws to a close, we share some highlights. Thanks to all of our partners and donors for your contributions to our work. 

Passports to Progress

ICRW launched our Passports to Progress discussion series to spark rich conversation about issues likely to shape women’s lives in the coming years. We kicked off the series on International Women’s Day, with a top-notch panel that included Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator, Cherie Blair, former British first lady and founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Tim Hanstad, president and CEO of Landesa, and Bobbi Silten, chief foundation officer at Gap Inc.  Our debut Passports to Progress panel discussed how innovative technologies, ideas and approaches have the power to change the trajectory of women’s lives in developing countries. 

Subsequent panels in our anniversary discussion series addressed solutions for ending violence against women and how to economically empower women worldwide. We plan to continue the discussions in 2012, so stay tuned. 

Champions for Change Award for Innovation

We recognized Gap Inc. for its P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program this year with our annual Champions for Change Award for Innovation. The award honors an organization working to advance the health, well-being and economic progress of women and girls through their policies, programs and partnerships. Gap’s P.A.C.E. program was developed in 2006 to provide life and technical skills education to women who work in garment factories. The program aims to help them progress in the workplace and in their personal lives.  

ICRW is the global evaluation partner on P.A.C.E., which operates in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Gap Inc.’s chief foundation officer, Bobbi Silten, accepted the award on International Women’s Day, saying that the women with whom P.A.C.E. works “are not only changing their lives, but they’re bringing change to the lives of their families and communities. We really believe at Gap Inc. that if we can advance women, we can change the world.”

At the annual Clinton Global Initiative in September, former President Bill Clinton also recognized P.A.C.E. as an exemplary example of economically advancing women worldwide. 

Ending Child Marriage

ICRW’s long-standing work on preventing child marriage – and the issue itself – gained much attention in 2011. We released “Solutions to End Child Marriage: What the Evidence Shows,” which summarizes child marriage prevention approaches that work and recommends a way forward. We saw the issue – and our efforts and experts – featured in major news outlets, including National Geographic, The Daily Beast and Thomson Reuters Foundation’s TrustLaw, as well as at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. We also were invited to share our insights with our partners at The Elders, who this year launched “Girls Not Brides,” a global campaign to end child marriage.

More than ever, we believe it’s critical that we capitalize on this unprecedented global attention on child marriage. Now is the time to harness this collective will to make sure that no girl is forced to wed and give up her dreams.

Want to keep up with our work to prevent child marriage? Sign up to receive our monthly newsletters to hear about our latest efforts.

Strengthening Women Economically

One of the ways that ICRW helped advance the gender and global development this year was with the release of our new guide to help evaluate whether programs to strengthen women economically are working. We found that a growing number of organizations – from government bodies to private companies – are committed to helping the world’s women succeed economically. But few know exactly how to get there. And that’s what our “Understanding and Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment” essentially covers.

Read more about what one of the report’s authors had to say about the guide and download a copy of the report.

Teenagers and Gender Equality

GEMS sign

Our program in Mumbai, India, that promotes more equitable roles between boys and girls and less violence grew significantly in 2011. Called Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS), the program and research study  took place in 30 schools, targeting 12-14 year old students. All told, GEMS reached 8,000 youth.

Now, the principles of GEMS are being integrated into more school lessons – specifically, 250 additional Mumbai schools are taking on the program, which will reach upwards of 80,000 girls and boys by 2014. The program also has been adopted in Vietnam’s Da Nang province. 

Working with Men and Boys

In January 2011, we released the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), a three-year, multi-country household survey that gave a window into men’s attitudes and behaviors on topics related to gender equality. IMAGES offered one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of how men feel and act about everything from changing diapers to using violence. 

Overall, the results demonstrated the complex – and at times contradictory – nature of men’s behavior. And they suggested that while most men accept the notion of gender equality and understand it intellectually, they don’t necessarily change their behaviors – at least not quickly. 

Data from IMAGES provides a blueprint for how to shape or revise policies and improve existing programs that work with men to empower women and promote gender equality.