NextBillion Editor

Weekly Roundup 7-11-15: Sports for Girls, Marriage Counseling for EU/Greece, Tweets for All

Editor’s note: The NextBillion team is a bit far-flung as the summer season hits high gear, so we’re continuing our experiement of combining our weekly Roundup with our list of Twitter favorites. It worked so well last week, in fact, that we’re thinking about going full-time with this smorgasbord approach. We’ll ponder that as you check out all the interesting tidbits this week.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that one of the best ways to level the playing field between men and women is … a playing field.

Gender disparities are so prevalent worldwide, especially in many developing countries, that Millennium Development Goal 3 is “to promote gender equality and empower women.” While some progress has been made, girls and women in many nations still lack access to primary schooling, economic opportunities, sexual and reproductive health – and are subject to far too much violence. In plain terms, women around the world lack voice and respect.

Enter the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament, which concluded Sunday after putting women in a spotlight that only the world’s most popular sport can provide. Women Deliver capitalized on the opportunity immediately, with its #GirlsCan social media campaign, in which girls around the world posted sports-related selfies and talked about how sports changed their lives.

If you think that sounds trivial, don’t tell Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver’s communications manager. “Sport programs can serve as a powerful platform for health information and education, teaching girls the skills and strategies they need to reduce risk and create positive changes in their lives, particularly related to sexual and reproductive health,” she told Population Services International’s publication, PSI Impact. “As a global development community, we will be tasked with putting the new Sustainable Development Goals … into action. One strategy for driving development that has been minimally explored is investing in girls and women, and recognizing sport as a powerful tool for change.”

Not coincidentally, the Women’s World Cup this year was more inclusive than ever, with developing nations getting a foothold and a share of the spotlight. Where the first cup, in 1991, had 12 teams, this year’s had 24, including Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Cameroon.

Participants in the recent Girl Power in Play Symposium also weighed in on the role sports can play in the post-2015 agenda. Sarah Hendricks of Plan Canada, for example, said a study by her group showed “a strong correlation between how girls are valued and sports participation, educational opportunities, as well as the ability to take charge of their future – avoiding early pregnancy, for example.”

Global health organizations have been wringing their hands for decades about gender inequality, with incremental results. Maybe the Women’s World Cup, with its focus on the physical achievements of women, and social media campaigns like #GirlsCan and the very cool #selfiewithdaughter Twitter trend in India, can speed that process by reaching a grass-roots level.

It’s worth noting that social change as a result of sport isn’t unprecedented. Baseball’s Jackie Robinson, for instance, did much to change perceptions about race in the U.S. It’s interesting to ponder how sport might also lead to mind-shifts in gender perceptions.

Brazil tips for Greece

Confused about the Greek debt crisis? Be honest – of course you are; everyone is. But a few people aren’t confused about what to do about it. And although the situation changes hour by hour, some offered prescriptions that take a long-term time horizon, the same sort of patience that many emerging market countries have applied to their debt problems as well as their social safety net.

In an article in The Globalist, Guy Pfeffermann, CEO and chairman of the board of the Global Business School Network, compared Greece’s relationship to the EU to that of a couple on the brink of divorce. A wise marriage counselor, wouldn’t get caught in the weeds, and neither should the players in this crisis.

“The most practical, constructive and, yes, humanitarian thing to do is to look at where the pain is most acute. Analyze that – and then try to do something about that.”

Pfeffermann, formerly the chief economist of the International Finance Corporation, suggests that any Greek relief plan focus on vulnerable populations, especially the poor and the elderly.

“Providing cash assistance, food and medication to young children and old persons is cheap when compared to fixing the books of creditor banks and/or governments.

“Since the Latin American debt crises of the 1980s, we have learned a lot about running targeted social programs. And it is something that the world has had very good experiences with in recent years.

“Consider, for example, the Bolsa Familia program in Brazil. Whatever is broken in Brazil – and there is a lot of it both in the economy and in the public sector – these cash programs are a great and very positive exception. “Recent biometric advances have made it possible to target programs in countries such as Indonesia.”

He believes such a plan would be more politically palatable to the Germans.

We hope he’s right. Because, if it comes to a divorce of this size, no one will really win. Not even the lawyers.



In a wide ranging interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Blumenstein, World Bank President Jim Kim talked about widening the investment pipelines into emerging markets.

“MS. BLUMENSTEIN: In terms of private investment, you’re thinking of going on a roadshow, creating different types of investment vehicles to entice the private sector into these countries. Could you explain?

DR. KIM: If you look at just one particular need in developing countries, financing for new infrastructure, it’s about a trillion dollars a year. If you look at all of the official development assistance put together, it’s about $130 billion. Then you add in all the funding that’s provided by the multilateral development banks, and it doesn’t even get to half of what the need is.

We need to get some of the capital sitting on the sidelines moving for these infrastructure investments. Infrastructure investments in developing countries provide a great potential return on investment for sovereign-wealth funds, for equity investors, for just about anybody.”

Tweets of the Week

Send your favorite tweets @NextBillion or NB managing editor @ScotterAnderson; global health topics @NextBillionHC; financial inclusion and impact investing topics @NextBillionFI.

Links of interest from the NB Team this week:

Health Care, Social Enterprise
financial inclusion, social enterprise