THE PUGGLE
SHARING WITH OTHERS TO MAKE
FASTER PROGRESS FOR ALL
Out in the bush, you’ll have to go into the pouch of a mama echidna to pet her baby puggle. Our Puggle is easier to find, showing up every month to share what we’re learning about emerging issues in girls’ education. Other posts provide our analysis of recent research and events and feature stories from our grantees. Explore more below, including a link to our resource library.

The Puggle: December 2019 edition

Dana Schmidt | December 18, 2019

It’s hard to believe it, but the futuristic-sounding year of 2020 is just two weeks away! Before we race into the future, our last Puggle of 2019 provides an opportunity to reflect on three lessons from the past year. These are drawn from work our grantees are doing to: (1) promote gender equality in early education, (2) integrate life skills and mindsets into government school systems, and (3) ensure governments and donors invest smarter and more in girls’ education. In addition to reading the lessons below, click through the links in this paragraph to read our *new* 2-pagers on our strategies in each of these areas.

Lesson #1: Consider the intergenerational impacts of programming on young children and their caretakers.

This month we had the privilege of attending the annual Birdsall House Conference at the Center for Global Development, which interrogated “Early Childhood Development Through a Gender Lens: Designing Policies that Work for the Whole Family.” There were a number of terrific discussions, and the webcast is well-worth a look, as is this summary of the event. Big picture, what we learned is that although outcomes for mothers and their children are intertwined, they are often looked at in isolation. Folks working on early childhood development are focused on outcomes for children, so they don’t look at outcomes for mothers. Pamela Jakiela and her team looked at 866 impact evaluations in early childhood development and found that only a third of them report outcomes for mothers, and half of those are looking at whether the mother does more on behalf of child development, not whether her own outcomes improve. On the flip side, folks working on women’s economic empowerment are focused on how interventions affect women, not their children.

At the conference we heard examples of early childhood interventions that improved mother’s mental health (group parenting interventions) and increased their earning power (high quality childcare). We also learned about early childhood interventions that fell short of supporting mothers or even demanded too much of them, like preschool programs that run for too few hours each day to allow women to work. Similarly, economic empowerment interventions can improve child development, but this is not a given. These examples say nothing of impacts on other household members, including grandparents and older siblings, who we learned are critical in the caretaking equation, and fathers, who could take on even more of the caretaking responsibilities if programs are designed thoughtfully. The bottom line is that programs and policies can be designed in ways that set into motion mutually reinforcing outcomes for children and their caretakers, but we can only learn about this if we’re looking at outcomes for more members of the household.

Lesson #2: Men and boys need to be part of the solution for girls’ education, even if engaging them is tricky.

In May we worked with a consortium of partners to host a workshop on Engaging Men and Boys to Promote Gender Equality Through Education. Often when we think about how to improve girls’ education outcomes, we think about how to target programs for girls. But that leaves out an important part of the picture, which is what needs to change in the broader society in order for girls to succeed. As described in this report of the workshop, “deliberate and targeted engagement with men and boys is…necessary not only for the empowerment of women and girls, but also to transform the social and gender norms that reinforce patriarchy and inequality.” 

There are lots of reasons engaging men and boys is tricky—if done poorly, it can divert resources from women and girls and perpetuate gender inequality, as aptly described in this brief. But it also presents an opportunity for challenging and changing gender norms that cannot be tackled by targeting girls alone. Because schools serve both boys and girls, the education system presents an opportunity to do exactly that. If the curriculum can provide opportunities to reflect on gender norms and equality and classroom practices can create an equal space for girls and boys to learn, we have an opportunity to advance gender equality both in and through education.

Lesson #3: Disaggregate education research by gender to discover a wider solution set and to understand what works and for whom.

David Evans and Fei Yuan came out with a working paper and fact sheet documenting the potential for improving girls’ education through interventions that target girls and boys. 

One of the big takeaways was how disappointingly difficult it was to complete this study in the first place. Two-thirds of the papers considered by the authors had not reported results disaggregated by gender. Unless we do better on this front, we will not know whether or not girls benefit from general interventions and by how much.

Once the authors went back and were able to disaggregate the results, they found that girls benefit just as much from general interventions that target both girls and boys as they do from girl-targeted interventions, which opens the door to a wider array of solutions that work for girls. The only way to know what works and for whom is to disaggregate data as a standard practice.

Bringing it all together…

Have you noticed a pattern in the lessons above? The through-line for us is the importance of widening our gaze beyond the girls’ whom we seek to educate in order to find, design, and fund the best programs and policies for girls. Our 2020 vision (pun intended) is to see this wider lens brought to bear on behalf of girls. One way we work to widen our gaze is by supporting local leaders through the Echidna Global Scholars Program. This year we commissioned an evaluation of the program (summarized here in our wider resource library). We learned how unique and valued the program is and also what to improve in order to amplify voices from the field.

  • Recent posts

    • DECEMBER

    • OCTOBER

    • SEPTEMBER

      News from Aug and Sept on everything from why girls’

    Load Older Posts

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    • JULY

      July was a hot month—literally, with record-breaking heat in many

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    • JANUARY

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      What's social and emotional learning got to do with it?

    • OCTOBER

      Obama's Global Girls Alliance, The Human Campital Index, and India's

    • SEPTEMBER

      Three themes on girls' education from UNGA

    • AUGUST

      Before we get to our usual Puggle updates, we have

    • JULY

      We’re at the peak of vacation season in the Northern

    • JUNE

      The G7 summit in Canada in early June catalyzed a $3

    • MAY

      This month we’re diving deep on a topic related to

    • APRIL

      April marked the first full month of a new season

    • MARCH

      In this update from March, we celebrate the march of progress

    • FEBRUARY

      This month brought encouraging news on aid to education.

    • JANUARY

      This month, champions spoke up for girls: Oprah made a rousing

    • DECEMBER

      This month we are keeping it short and sweet. In

    • NOVEMBER

      This month we are excited to share a piece we published

    • DECEMBER

      The latest World Development Report focuses exclusively on education for the first

    • OCTOBER

      Echidna Giving team highlights emerging issues and findings related to

    • SEPTEMBER

      This month the World Bank released the World Development Report (WDR). For

    • AUGUST

      August offered plenty of great material, including a collection of essays from

    • JULY

      There is a notion that things slow down during the

    • JUNE

    • MAY

      In May, the Center For Universal Education (CUE) and the

    • APRIL

      In April, the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings served

    • MARCH

      March 8th marked International Women’s Day. This month we were

    • FEBRUARY

      Even if every single girl completed at least 6 grades

    • JANUARY

      News in January seemed to be dominated by the new

    • DECEMBER

      In 2016, the Echidna Giving team reviewed literature related to

    • DECEMBER

      Welcome to the end-of-year installment of The Puggle. In this

    • NOVEMBER

      In September, the Echidna Giving team joined the masses of

    • OCTOBER

      In case you missed it, on October 11 the world celebrated

    • SEPTEMBER

      It turns out September was a busy month for

    • AUGUST

      This August we couldn’t help but be inspired by the Olympics!

    • JULY

      Echidna Giving is delighted to launch our blog, a space

  • The Puggle: December 2019 edition

    Dana Schmidt | December 18, 2019

    It’s hard to believe it, but the futuristic-sounding year of 2020 is just two weeks away! Before we race into the future, our last Puggle of 2019 provides an opportunity to reflect on three lessons from the past year. These are drawn from work our grantees are doing to: (1) promote gender equality in early education, (2) integrate life skills and mindsets into government school systems, and (3) ensure governments and donors invest smarter and more in girls’ education. In addition to reading the lessons below, click through the links in this paragraph to read our *new* 2-pagers on our strategies in each of these areas.

    Lesson #1: Consider the intergenerational impacts of programming on young children and their caretakers.

    This month we had the privilege of attending the annual Birdsall House Conference at the Center for Global Development, which interrogated “Early Childhood Development Through a Gender Lens: Designing Policies that Work for the Whole Family.” There were a number of terrific discussions, and the webcast is well-worth a look, as is this summary of the event. Big picture, what we learned is that although outcomes for mothers and their children are intertwined, they are often looked at in isolation. Folks working on early childhood development are focused on outcomes for children, so they don’t look at outcomes for mothers. Pamela Jakiela and her team looked at 866 impact evaluations in early childhood development and found that only a third of them report outcomes for mothers, and half of those are looking at whether the mother does more on behalf of child development, not whether her own outcomes improve. On the flip side, folks working on women’s economic empowerment are focused on how interventions affect women, not their children.

    At the conference we heard examples of early childhood interventions that improved mother’s mental health (group parenting interventions) and increased their earning power (high quality childcare). We also learned about early childhood interventions that fell short of supporting mothers or even demanded too much of them, like preschool programs that run for too few hours each day to allow women to work. Similarly, economic empowerment interventions can improve child development, but this is not a given. These examples say nothing of impacts on other household members, including grandparents and older siblings, who we learned are critical in the caretaking equation, and fathers, who could take on even more of the caretaking responsibilities if programs are designed thoughtfully. The bottom line is that programs and policies can be designed in ways that set into motion mutually reinforcing outcomes for children and their caretakers, but we can only learn about this if we’re looking at outcomes for more members of the household.

    Lesson #2: Men and boys need to be part of the solution for girls’ education, even if engaging them is tricky.

    In May we worked with a consortium of partners to host a workshop on Engaging Men and Boys to Promote Gender Equality Through Education. Often when we think about how to improve girls’ education outcomes, we think about how to target programs for girls. But that leaves out an important part of the picture, which is what needs to change in the broader society in order for girls to succeed. As described in this report of the workshop, “deliberate and targeted engagement with men and boys is…necessary not only for the empowerment of women and girls, but also to transform the social and gender norms that reinforce patriarchy and inequality.” 

    There are lots of reasons engaging men and boys is tricky—if done poorly, it can divert resources from women and girls and perpetuate gender inequality, as aptly described in this brief. But it also presents an opportunity for challenging and changing gender norms that cannot be tackled by targeting girls alone. Because schools serve both boys and girls, the education system presents an opportunity to do exactly that. If the curriculum can provide opportunities to reflect on gender norms and equality and classroom practices can create an equal space for girls and boys to learn, we have an opportunity to advance gender equality both in and through education.

    Lesson #3: Disaggregate education research by gender to discover a wider solution set and to understand what works and for whom.

    David Evans and Fei Yuan came out with a working paper and fact sheet documenting the potential for improving girls’ education through interventions that target girls and boys. 

    One of the big takeaways was how disappointingly difficult it was to complete this study in the first place. Two-thirds of the papers considered by the authors had not reported results disaggregated by gender. Unless we do better on this front, we will not know whether or not girls benefit from general interventions and by how much.

    Once the authors went back and were able to disaggregate the results, they found that girls benefit just as much from general interventions that target both girls and boys as they do from girl-targeted interventions, which opens the door to a wider array of solutions that work for girls. The only way to know what works and for whom is to disaggregate data as a standard practice.

    Bringing it all together…

    Have you noticed a pattern in the lessons above? The through-line for us is the importance of widening our gaze beyond the girls’ whom we seek to educate in order to find, design, and fund the best programs and policies for girls. Our 2020 vision (pun intended) is to see this wider lens brought to bear on behalf of girls. One way we work to widen our gaze is by supporting local leaders through the Echidna Global Scholars Program. This year we commissioned an evaluation of the program (summarized here in our wider resource library). We learned how unique and valued the program is and also what to improve in order to amplify voices from the field.

  • Recent posts

    • DECEMBER

    • OCTOBER

    • SEPTEMBER

      News from Aug and Sept on everything from why girls’

    Load Older Posts

    Older posts

    • JULY

      July was a hot month—literally, with record-breaking heat in many

    • JUNE

      In honor of Father’s Day, this June edition of the

    • MAY

    • APRIL

    • MARCH

    • FEBRUARY

    • JANUARY

      Ed quality in 3 charts, a new teacher observation tool,

    • DECEMBER

      In 2019, our team will spend considerable time and effort

    • DECEMBER

      2018 Is A (W)rap

    • NOVEMBER

      What's social and emotional learning got to do with it?

    • OCTOBER

      Obama's Global Girls Alliance, The Human Campital Index, and India's

    • SEPTEMBER

      Three themes on girls' education from UNGA

    • AUGUST

      Before we get to our usual Puggle updates, we have

    • JULY

      We’re at the peak of vacation season in the Northern

    • JUNE

      The G7 summit in Canada in early June catalyzed a $3

    • MAY

      This month we’re diving deep on a topic related to

    • APRIL

      April marked the first full month of a new season

    • MARCH

      In this update from March, we celebrate the march of progress

    • FEBRUARY

      This month brought encouraging news on aid to education.

    • JANUARY

      This month, champions spoke up for girls: Oprah made a rousing

    • DECEMBER

      This month we are keeping it short and sweet. In

    • NOVEMBER

      This month we are excited to share a piece we published

    • DECEMBER

      The latest World Development Report focuses exclusively on education for the first

    • OCTOBER

      Echidna Giving team highlights emerging issues and findings related to

    • SEPTEMBER

      This month the World Bank released the World Development Report (WDR). For

    • AUGUST

      August offered plenty of great material, including a collection of essays from

    • JULY

      There is a notion that things slow down during the

    • JUNE

    • MAY

      In May, the Center For Universal Education (CUE) and the

    • APRIL

      In April, the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings served

    • MARCH

      March 8th marked International Women’s Day. This month we were

    • FEBRUARY

      Even if every single girl completed at least 6 grades

    • JANUARY

      News in January seemed to be dominated by the new

    • DECEMBER

      In 2016, the Echidna Giving team reviewed literature related to

    • DECEMBER

      Welcome to the end-of-year installment of The Puggle. In this

    • NOVEMBER

      In September, the Echidna Giving team joined the masses of

    • OCTOBER

      In case you missed it, on October 11 the world celebrated

    • SEPTEMBER

      It turns out September was a busy month for

    • AUGUST

      This August we couldn’t help but be inspired by the Olympics!

    • JULY

      Echidna Giving is delighted to launch our blog, a space

  • We believe in exchanging ideas and sharing knowledge. Here’s some of what we’ve been reading to inform our thinking on girls’ education. Feel free to suggest additional resources for us to read and feature!