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Girls Grow: A Vital Force in Rural Economies

RESEARCH Report by Catherine Bertini
Two young girls sitting down to eat

This report includes recommendations for how girls in rural communities can be better supported through improved personal and professional development, health, and safety.

In August 2010, The Chicago Council announced an initiative to bring attention to the role of girls in rural economies of developing countries and identify opportunities to increase investment in women and girls as a tool for economic growth and social stability. Catherine Bertini, currently a Chicago Council senior fellow and Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, served as chair of the project.

For its Girls in Rural Economies project, the Council has convened an international group of government, business, and civic leaders—experts in the fields of gender, development, agriculture, entrepreneurship, and informal employment and health—to oversee a study of the role of adolescent girls in rural economies in the developing world. The group paid particular attention to girls’ participation in the agriculture and food sectors. They developed recommendations for how rural girls’ personal and professional development, health, and safety can better be supported and, in turn, spur long-term economic growth and social stability at the community, national, and regional levels.

A project report and recommendations were broadly disseminated to developing country governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, regional and international organizations, NGOs, policy influencers, and international media and opinion leaders in October of 2011. The publication serves as the latest volume of “Girls Count,” a report series jointly co-led by the Nike Foundation and the United Nations Foundation to provide research specifically focused on adolescent girls in the developing world.

About the Author
Distinguished Fellow, Global Food and Agriculture
Council expert Catherine Bertini
Catherine Bertini served as executive director of the UN World Food Program, the world’s largest international humanitarian agency, from 1992 to 2002 prior to joining the Council. She was named the World Food Prize laureate in 2003 for her groundbreaking leadership there.
Council expert Catherine Bertini