September 18, 2016

The Status of Girls: A Proxy for Quality of Life for All

Written by Achieng Masiga, Program Manager for Global Community Impact in Sub-Saharan Africa, Johnson & Johnson

This post originally appeared on Johnson & Johnson’s website. Reposted with permission.

Group of women

Johnson & Johnson’s Achieng Masiga (center) visits with four young women participating in a girls’ and women’s empowerment program during a visit to SOS Children’s Village in Jos, Nigeria. Photo: Johnson & Johnson

This year, in part because of last year’s launch of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals), the global development community has redoubled its efforts to assess the major drivers of poverty and improve the health of the world’s most vulnerable people. From the Women Deliver Conference in May and the International AIDS Conference in July to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opening in September, evaluating the improvements in conditions for women and girls remains a consistent theme. And that conversation is of utmost importance to Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

Until we, as a global community, remove the barriers restricting girls from accessing equal opportunities, we cannot expect to make progress and meet the targets set out in the Global Goals. In my eyes, the quality of life for girls acts a proxy indicator for the general quality of life for all.

I had the benefit of growing up with two parents who prioritized my education and valued my contributions as their daughter. As I grew up, I saw my peers drop out of school for one reason or another. And I cherished the opportunity I had to stay in school. Simply put, I could see first hand that while education and a strong support network are crucial elements for success, many young women in my community had neither.

Even today, education, is still out of reach for many girls around the world. I am deeply committed to changing that. As a Program Manager for Global Community Impact in Sub-Saharan Africa at J&J, I have the privilege of supporting partners who work together with their local communities to help solve the challenges faced by girls and other vulnerable children. A few of these remarkable partners include: WISER, HURU International, SHE,Lwala Community Alliance, SOS Children’s Villages, Nyumbani Children’s Home and Village, and Project Mercy.

While there are no silver bullets when it comes to development, education is a critical tool. With it comes a boost to confidence, and an increased ability to make informed decisions across all areas of life — from health, relationship building and conflict resolution, financial security, job stability, and more — which benefits an individual and her entire community. Our partners work tirelessly to educate young girls and connect them to the information and services they need for a thriving, healthy adulthood.

During this year’s UNGA activities, our partner Nyumbani Village will take the stage during the Global Citizen Festival, of which J&J is a major sponsor. A short documentary will tell the truly inspiring story of Kenya’s first sustainable village for AIDS orphans — a perfect example of how a healthy, self-sustaining future is possible when we equip the world’s most vulnerable with the right tools and care. Grace Wairimu, a young leader and resident of Nyumbani Village, will also attend the Festival to share her firsthand experience so we may all learn from it, too.

I’m excited to be at Grace’s side as she shares her story of resiliency with Global Citizen Festival attendees, inspiring a new generation of leaders (and concertgoers) to support creative social solutions for achieving the Global Goals. Just as we need to focus our efforts to provide girls with the supports they need to thrive, we must also encourage today’s young adults to appreciate the value of opening the doors of opportunity for the world’s most vulnerable.

During this year’s UNGA week, I look forward to joining forces with colleagues and partners who share my passion for positioning all girls to succeed and who know this is an investment in a shared future.


Achieng MasigaAchieng Masiga is Program Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Global Community Impact, at Johnson & Johnson. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, she manages programs with partners working in the areas of maternal, newborn, and child health, girls’ education and empowerment, as well as orphans and vulnerable children.