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Megan O’Donnell is the assistant director of CGD’s gender program and a senior policy analyst. She works on issues related to women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion, gender data and measurement, and development effectiveness. Prior to CGD, O’Donnell worked at the ONE Campaign, an international advocacy organization focused on sub Saharan Africa, where she led the development of ONE’s gender and inclusive growth-focused policy recommendations to donors and country governments. Before joining ONE, she coordinated CGD’s gender research program and has also worked with the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Center for Research on Women, CARE USA, Banyan Global, and the Middle East Institute. She has a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s degree in Politics and French from the University of Virginia.
As part of our new Gender and Development program, CGD just hosted the first annual Birdsall House Conference on Women. This year’s session, “Small Changes, Big Impact: Creating Conditions for Women and Girls to Thrive,” explored the possibility that cheap and scalable aid-funded interventions could considerably improve the lives of women and girls. Short answer: small changes do have big potential, but their limits should be acknowledged — and they require continued study and fine-tuning in order to be more effective.
Last week’s Girl Summit DC focused on child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM), the consequences of the practice, and solutions that will allow girls to delay marriage and reach their full potential. The event generated discussion about potential solutions, and raised a number of issues CGD will be tackling through its new Gender and Development Program over the coming years.