September 23, 2009 / 8:08 PM / in 9 years

Clinton Initiative laments dismal aid for girls

* Will lacking to ‘invest more in girls and women’

* Women do 2/3 of work, own 1 percent property: Clinton

* "Education, education, and yet more education" needed

By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Women and girls remain largely ignored by development aid around the world with girls receiving only one cent of every dollar, leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative said on Wednesday.

"Money is not the problem ... it’s available. But the political decision to say ‘we need to actually invest much more in girls and women’ is not fully there yet," said Zainab Salbi, founder and chief executive of Women for Women International, a group that helps female survivors of war rebuild their lives.

Even though women make up half the world’s population, they do two-thirds of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the world’s food, earn 10 percent of the world’s income and own one percent of the world’s property, said former U.S. President Bill Clinton at his annual philanthropic summit.

"Whether the issue is improving the involvement of young women and girls in education to climate change and all political and social economic issues in between, I think empowering women is central to what the world has to do in the 21st century," Clinton said.

Girls get one cent, or less than one cent, of every dollar of development aid, Salbi said, citing research by the Nike Foundation and NoVo Foundation.

Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, said good intentions are not enough. Donors need programs that will work in their self-interest, he said.

For example, Goldman Sachs Group Inc is pledging to give business education and training to 10,000 women worldwide.

Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s chairman and chief executive, said the bank may never hire any of those women, but that it could later hire their children, who will benefit from their education.

"This is where you get an enormous return if other people aren’t going to be in the space. There’s a wide open area for us," Blankfein said.

Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp made a $1.5 million first-year commitment to help identify and implement technologies to improve women’s lives.

Edna Adan Ismail, a women’s rights activist from Somalia who founded a maternity hospital there, said her most pressing near-term needs include water for hand-washing, mid-wife training and medical equipment.

"There are so many things, but if we prioritize them, I would say education, education and yet more education," Ismail said. (Editing by Daniel Trotta and Eric Walsh)




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