When I say “Habitat,” I don’t mean physical housing, I mean the integral environment at all levels: physical, educational, health, civic, employment, laws, security, political systems, social and religious programs, and leadership.”
In this Girl Effect “I dare you” video, the Nike Foundation tries to summarize the reasons we should support girls’ education in the developing world, stating that educating a girl for seven years will help, among other things, as follows:
- It will postpone her marriage by 4 years;
- The population HIV rates go down;
- When an educated girl earns income she will reinvest 90% of her income in her family, vs. the 35% that boys reinvest.
The video ends with this statement: “Yet 99.4% of International aid money does not go to her.”
Those statistics are eye opening, and are an invitation for us all to think where our donations and tax money for aid are going.
My experience in the developing world has taught me that unless we create Sustainable Habitats for girls and boys no aid will go beyond the band-aid effect. Such effect could last months or years, until the cycle of poverty, wars and abuse starts again.
Education, although it is an essential factor in the emergence of any society and the liberation of girls, is not enough on its own. That’s why when designing for cultural development solutions in organizations and countries, it is of vital importance to design for a Whole System change, or a Habitat change. What I mean by whole system and habitat includes the following:
- Scanning the Vital Signs in the culture: Geography, history, economy, political systems, religions, conflicts, wars, statistics on income, demographics, death rate etc….
- Assessing the various Value-systems in said culture, mindsets, belief-systems …
- Designing educational systems, healthcare systems, transportation, water systems, agricultural systems that fit the ‘lay of the land…” for example: in Afghanistan, how can we replace Opium crops that are very lucrative and supporting the Taliban by other less lucrative crops? One suggestion is to ask pharma companies to buy those crops for use in their manufacturing…
- Designing the appropriate system of governance that fits the value-systems and lay of the land of the culture
Of course, this is a short list of the complex work that needs to be done. But unless we address the whole system, and use the aid money to create sustainable futures rather than most of it ending up indirectly in the pocket of corrupt politicians and business people in the developing world, we will keep repeating the same well meaning mistakes we have done before.
So, yes, I dare you, Nike, to create Sustainable Habitats for Girls and Boys in the developing world…girls, Habitat, Natural Design, Nike Foundation, Whole Systems