Women Deliver 100: 76 - 100

Kavita Ramdas, India
Senior Advisor and Former President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women

Kavita_Ramdas.jpgIssue: Philanthropy
How she delivers for women
: Ramdas has been at the forefront of a new wave in philanthropy, and she sees grant-making as more than a simple transfer of money: it’s an opportunity for grant-makers and women-led organizations to learn from each other and together advance women’s empowerment. Under her leadership at the Global Fund for Women, assets rose from $6 million to $21 million, and the number of countries granted funding nearly tripled. Ramdas’ efforts enabled the Fund to scale up their critical work, making grants to help establish, strengthen and link women’s rights groups around the world. By sustaining women’s leadership worldwide, Ramdas has ensured that women are recognized for the work they do and receive the resources they need to keep it up.
Learn more
: http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/kavita-n-ramdas

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Nadia Ribadeneira, Ecuador
Founding member of La Casa Feminista de Rosa, Member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Issue: Women’s rights and prisoners’ rights
How she delivers for women
: Though only 26, Ribadeneira has already proven herself a passionate and effective advocate for both female prisoners’ rights and for young women’s sexual and reproductive freedom. She has publicly denounced abuse in Ecuador’s women’s prisons, where corruption, bribery, and overcrowding are commonplace. She advocates for alternative penalties for women while raising awareness of female prisoners’ rights in the media. Ribadeneira is a founding member of La Casa Feminista de Rosa (Rosa's Feminist House), a social center dedicated to defending the rights of women, and of La Coalición Ecuatoriana por la Despenaliación del Aborto (Ecuadorian Coalition for the Decriminalization of Abortion) which fights for safe abortion services, especially for young women. In her work for women across the country, she is proving the power of grassroots feminist action.
Learn more
: http://www.youthcoalition.org/html/member.php?ind=mmb&id_member=32&id_cat=2

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Mary Robinson, Ireland
President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Former President of Ireland, Founding member of The Elders

Mary_Robinson.jpgIssue: Human Rights
How she delivers for women
: Robinson has compiled an extraordinary track record as a champion of the world’s marginalized and disenfranchised. As Ireland’s first female President, she transformed the office with sweeping reforms, decriminalizing homosexuality and increasing access to contraceptives. As a founding member and former Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, she has worked to address barriers to women’s leadership, and to promote women’s access to positions of power. She works with local and national women leaders in conflict and post-conflict situations to increase their participation in the development of peacekeeping policies and programs. And she has passionately called for women to lead the fight to avert climate change. For amplifying women’s voices where they are needed most, Robinson never ceases to inspire.
Learn more
: http://www.realizingrights.org

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Casimira Rodríguez, Bolivia
Labor organizer and former Minister of Justice

Issue: Women’s labor rights and indigenous women’s rights
How she delivers for women
: At the age of thirteen, Rodríguez was trafficked from her village to work as a domestic laborer in the city of Cochabamba, where for two years she worked over eighteen hours a day without pay. Among young indigenous girls in Bolivia, her experience is hardly uncommon: 55% of indigenous girls start working before they are fifteen, and only 47% ever complete their primary education. Determined to empower herself and her fellow workers, Rodríguez helped found the Cochabamba Domestic Workers’ Union and became a leader in the labor movement, spearheading efforts to pass a Domestic Worker’s Protection Law in 2003. In 2006, she became the first indigenous Quechua woman to serve as Bolivia’s Minister of Justice. Rodriguez is committed to breaking the pattern of exploitation and discrimination that has trapped so many indigenous girls in Bolivia, and helping them find their place as true and equal citizens.
Learn more
: http://ashoka.org/fellow/4070

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Nawal El Saadawi, Egypt
Feminist, human rights activist, psychiatrist, poet and writer

Nawal_High_Resolution.jpgIssue: Women’s rights
How she delivers for women
: Egypt’s foremost feminist, El Saadawi has refused to be silenced by either political or religious authorities. A psychiatrist and prolific writer, El Saadawi has challenged political and religious taboos with frank discussions of women’s rights, health, sexuality, and religion – and calls for full democracy. Her books have been banned in Egypt, and she was jailed under Anwar Sadat and forced to flee the country for several years. But she continued her fight, pushing to end the practice of female genital cutting, which she herself underwent as a child. Her relentless advocacy led to the banning of FGC in 2007. In early 2011, at the age of 80, she joined the crowds demanding democracy in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, with the hope of finally achieving the Egypt she has fought for: one that grants equality, and full rights, to all.
Learn more
: http://www.nawalsaadawi.net/

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Fred Sai, Ghana
Physician, Former President of International Planned Parenthood Federation

FredSai.jpgIssue: Maternal and child health
How he delivers for women
: Throughout his career, Sai has been a prescient, groundbreaking advocate for maternal health. When he began practicing medicine, contraceptives were unavailable, and countless women were dying from botched abortions. Sai took on these issues, providing health care and leading advocacy efforts in Ghana and worldwide. He founded the Ghana Family Planning Association, and then served at the World Bank, where he was instrumental in increasing the Bank’s commitment to family planning. In 1987, he chaired the Safe Motherhood Conference, putting maternal health on the global agenda. In 1994, he chaired the International Conference on Population and Development, which called international attention to women’s rights and demanded that gender equality form the basis of all human relationships – a goal Sai has worked tirelessly to advance, in a long career dedicated to delivering for women.
Learn more
: http://www.womendeliver.org/about/board-members/

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Zainab Salbi, Iraq
Founder and CEO of Women for Women International

zainab-salbi-headshot-large.jpgIssue: Women survivors of war
How she delivers for women
: A childhood in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – where her father was Hussein’s personal pilot – left Salbi deeply aware of how vulnerable women are in war and crisis situations. Years later, moved by the plight of women held in rape camps during the Bosnian War, Salbi founded Women for Women International, which helps women war survivors rebuild their lives. The organization matches war survivors with women sponsors around the world, who offer financial and moral support, and job skills and rights training. It has harnessed the power of connections between women to help some 271,000 survivors of war, offering not only an economic lifeline, but a crucial reminder that they have not been forgotten.
Learn more
: http://www.womenforwomen.org/about-women-for-women/zainab-salbi.php

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Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, Afghanistan
Co-Founder of the Oruj Learning Center

Issue: Girls’ education and violence against women
How she delivers for women
: When the Taliban forced her university to close, thwarting her goal of becoming a doctor, Saleem turned her formidable energy toward making sure other girls didn’t suffer the same fate. In 2002, Saleem and three other women pooled their savings to found the only girl's school in their isolated Afghan village, where most women remain illiterate. Since then, the Oruj Learning Center has grown from 36 students to over 2,800, and runs literacy centers for over 200 adult women. But Saleem hasn’t stopped there, founding a domestic violence prevention project and working to engage religious leaders to address women’s issues. Despite threats to her safety and the safety of her students, Saleem remains committed to prying open opportunity for Afghanistan’s girls and unleashing the potential of Afghan women.
Learn more
: http://www.vitalvoices.org/vital-voices-women/featured-voices/sadiqa-basiri-saleem

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Sima Samar, Afghanistan
Doctor, Founder of Shuhada (Afghanistan’s largest NGO), Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan, Former Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan

Issue: The rights, health, and education of girls and women Afghanistan
How she delivers for women
: In a country where the life expectancy for women is 44, where the rate of maternal deaths is among the highest and the rate of female literacy among the lowest in the world, Samar has long been a beacon of hope. Samar founded Shuhada while in exile in Pakistan in 1989, to provide health care for Afghan refugee women and children. In the two decades since, Shuhada has expanded into a remarkable network of hospitals and clinics focused on Afghan women, and runs scores of schools for women and children. As the first Minister of Women’s Affairs in the new Afghan government, Samar fought to restore women’s rights and economic opportunities, and was eventually forced out of office for her courage to do so. Now Chair of the country’s Independent Human Rights Commission, Samar has remained a relentless voice focusing international attention on the needs of Afghan women and girls.
Learn more
: http://www.shuhada.org.af/

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Saudatu Sani, Nigeria
Chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on MDGs, Chair of AdvocacyNigeria

SaudatuaSani.jpgIssue: Maternal health
How she delivers for women
: Sani has convinced her government that investing in women pays. Despite the deaths of nearly 60,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth each year, the Nigerian government had refused to reveal how it spent its health budget. Sani led the fight to make women’s health a priority, and inspired the government to create a budget line dedicated to “reducing the maternal mortality rate,” a critical first step in increasing funding. She opened a Youth and Women Development Center, which trained many of its students to open their own businesses. And as chair of AdvocacyNigeria, she works to expand free emergency obstetric care and fund reproductive health services. We’re confident that she will keep Nigeria’s parliament focused on women for years to come.
Learn more
: http://speakersoffice.gov.ng/constituencies_kaduna_7.htm

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Amartya Sen, India
Economist, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics

Issue: Gender equality and development
How he delivers for women
: “More Than a 100 Million Women Are Missing.” That was the title of the breakthrough article Sen wrote in 1990. He declared that 100 million women who should be alive are not, because of unequal access to medical care, inadequate nutrition, and selective abortion. Since then, Sen’s research on women has been groundbreaking, indispensable, and persuasive, convincing policymakers worldwide that in order to succeed, “the central feature of any development program has to be greater power to women.” He has provided the empirical evidence for the importance of gender equality, women’s empowerment, girls’ education and gender-focused aid programs. He tackled gender discrimination when others in his field considered women’s issues marginal, and has been unrelenting in his insistence that economists and policymakers take women into account. For that, we salute him.
Learn more
: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/sen

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Jill W. Sheffield, USA
Founder and President of Women Deliver, Co-founder and former President of Family Care International

Jill-Sheffield.jpgIssue: Maternal health, reproductive rights and women’s empowerment
How she delivers for women
: Sheffield is a champion of maternal health and reproductive rights, fighting to end the deluge of preventable deaths that take the lives of approximately 350,000 girls and women each year during pregnancy and childbirth. In the mid-1960s, while volunteering for a family planning clinic in Kenya, Sheffield met women who were unable to access contraception without their husbands’ permission, and the experience launched a lifelong commitment to women’s reproductive health and rights. In 1987, Sheffield co-founded Family Care International, a nonprofit organization committed to improving maternal health in the world’s poorest nations, and helped to establish the Safe Motherhood Initiative, which placed maternal health on the global health agenda. In 2007, Sheffield launched Women Deliver, a global conference which brings together world leaders to galvanize action on the health of girls and women. Sheffield is an icon in the field of maternal health, fighting to make sure that world leaders put women – and their health – first.
Learn more
: http://www.womendeliver.org/about/staff/

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Mu Sochua, Cambodia
Member of Parliament and human rights advocate

sochua_main.jpgIssue: Gender equality and human rights
How she delivers for women
: Forced to flee Cambodia as a teenager, Sochua returned after years in exile to face the consequences of the Khmer Rouge: girls sold into prostitution to support impoverished families, widespread corruption, and no female representation in government. Sochua founded the country’s first NGO for women, Khemara, which provides education, childcare, emergency shelter and other essential services to girls and women. She became a Member of Parliament and then the first female Minister of Women’s and Veteran’s Affairs, one of only two women in the cabinet. In 2002, she mobilized 12,000 women to run for local elections, and over 900 won. In 2004, she stepped down as Minister, decrying government corruption, and now serves as a member of parliament for the opposition. In the face of overwhelming obstacles, Sochua has over and over again proven herself a champion of Cambodia’s women.
Learn more
: http://musochua.org

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Gloria Steinem, USA
Writer, Feminist, Organizer and Activist

gloria-steinem-author-publicity-photo.jpgIssue: Gender equality
How she delivers for women
: As the face and heart of the American feminist movement, Steinem has been redefining the fight for gender equality since the 1960s. In over four decades of activism and organizing, she has pursued a radically simple goal: a world in which everyone matters. Steinem co-founded Ms. Magazine in 1972, tackling issues that nobody else would, from domestic violence to children’s rights to abortion. She was the force behind initiatives including Voters for Choice, the Ms. Foundation for Women, Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and the Women’s Media Center. She has lent her iconic voice to women’s causes worldwide, speaking out with particular passion for equal economic opportunity and reproductive rights, and against sex-trafficking. Above all, she continually reminds us that as feminists, our work is not over until everyone, everywhere is equal.
Learn more
: http://www.gloriasteinem.com/

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Shershah Syed, Pakistan
Ob/gyn, President of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan

Shershah_Syed.jpgIssue: Maternal health and midwifery
How he delivers for women
: An ob/gyn and outspoken advocate for maternal health and women’s rights, Syed has devoted himself to saving poor women in his native Pakistan, where each year an estimated 15,000 women die and some 400,000 more suffer devastating injuries during pregnancy and childbirth. He founded the Koohi Goth Women’s Hospital in Karachi to offer free care to obstetric fistula patients, and is working to improve professional standards and recognition for midwives, a profession so crucial to women’s health and so often ignored. To relieve the country’s severe shortage of skilled medical staff, his hospital offers free training to midwives and other health workers. In the face of extreme poverty and adversity, Syed is committed to serving Pakistan’s marginalized women and supporting the health workers who care for them.
Learn more
: http://www.genderacrossborders.com/2009/07/20/global-feminist-profile-dr-shershah-syed/

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Tatiana Therosme, Haiti
Head Psychologist at Zanmi Lasante

Tatiana_Therosme.jpgIssue: Women’s mental health
How she delivers for women
: Not all lives are saved in hospitals – some are saved at kitchen tables. That’s where Therosme, a psychologist, often does her work. Even before the devastation of last year’s earthquake, she was one of very few mental health professionals in all of Haiti. As Head Psychologist for Zanmi Lasante, an affiliate of Partners in Health, she worked to shatter the silence surrounding mental illness, once patient at a time. Now, she is working with women recovering from the trauma of the 2010 earthquake, and the epidemic of sexual assault, physical abuse, depression and anxiety that followed. Helping women to work through their experiences and look forward into the future, Therosme is more than just a listening ear – she is helping women to recover their lives.
Learn more
: http://www.pih.org/haiti/news-entry/healing-a-shaken-psychosis/

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Karma Lekshe Tsomo, USA
Buddhist nun, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, Director of the Jamyang Foundation

Karma_Lekshe_Tsomo2.jpgIssue: Gender equality and women’s education in Buddhism
How she delivers for women
: Growing up, her family name was “Zenn” so it seems only natural that this daughter of a Southern Baptist mother would become a follower of the Buddha. An American Buddhist nun, Tsomo has been a leader of the feminist movement within Tibetan Buddhism, working to re-establish and expand ordination for nuns – a privilege enjoyed by men but long extinguished for women. Tsomo has organized annual Sakyadhita gatherings where Buddhist women can meet and mobilize for greater equality. And as head of the Jamyang Foundation, she has advanced educational opportunities for young Buddhist nuns and girls, stewarding their futures when no one else will. In a religion which often favors men and monks, Tsomo is forging a place for Buddhist women.
Learn more
: http://www.sandiego.edu/cas/theo/faculty/biography.php?ID=296

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Cristina Villarreal, Colombia
Psychologist, Executive Director of Fundacion Oriéntame

CRISTINA_VILLARREAL.jpgIssue: Safe abortion and mental health
How she delivers for women
: Villarreal learned her passion for women’s health at the feet of her father, a doctor who established Oriéntame to provide critical post-abortion care in Colombia at a time when abortion itself was illegal. Villarreal was a leader in the movement that decriminalized abortion, and went on to become the executive director of Oriéntame, which now provides safe and legal abortions and is recognized throughout Latin America for its quality care. As a psychologist, she pioneered counseling models for the humane and compassionate treatment of women seeking safe abortions. She and her organization have trained more than 1,000 healthcare providers in safe abortion techniques, counseling and professional ethics – improving the lives of women throughout Latin America.
Learn more
: http://www.medicalabortionconsortium.org/video/interview-with-cristina-villarreal-executive-director-fundacion-orientame-colombia-9/

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Oprah Winfrey, USA
Television producer, Philanthropist, Founder of the Oprah Winfrey Foundation and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa

Oprah.jpgIssue: Empowering women and girls’ education
How she delivers for women
: The empress of American media, Winfrey is a singular international role model who has used her prominent position to shine a bright light on previously ignored women’s issues worldwide. Through her show, magazine, and now her network, Winfrey offers activists an enormous platform, broadcasting their stories to the world and galvanizing her viewers and readers to take action. She has raised awareness on issues from sexual violence in the Congo to maternal health to ending sex trafficking. As a philanthropist, she has focused on girls’ education, funding scholarships, building schools, and opening the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. In all the phases of her remarkable career, from movie-making to philanthropy, Winfrey has been a voice, an example and a champion for women around the globe.
Learn more
: http://www.oprah.com/pressroom/Oprah-Winfreys-Official-Biography

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Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh
Founder of the Grameen Bank, Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize

MuhammadYunus.jpgIssue: Women’s economic empowerment
How he delivers for women
: Yunus pioneered the art of microfinance with a particular, deliberate focus on poor women. In 1983, he founded the Grameen Bank — “the Bank for the Poor”—which has provided small loans to over eight million borrowers who otherwise could not access credit, empowering them to launch small businesses and lift their families from poverty. Ninety-seven percent of Grameen’s borrowers are women, who are more likely than men to live in poverty and are more likely to devote their earnings to their families. In 2006, Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to unleash the potential of the poorest and most vulnerable, and remake societies from below. He and the Grameen Bank have offered millions of women a chance to seize control of their economic destinies — and become engines of economic and social change in their communities.
Learn more
: http://www.muhammadyunus.org/

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UNFPA's Iconic Leaders
Nafis Sadik, PakistanFormer Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS
Thoraya Obaid, Saudi ArabiaFormer Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

nafis-and-thoraya.jpg

Issue: Women’s rights and reproductive health
How they deliver for women
: Sadik and Obaid together transformed the UN’s approach to women and population. As the architect of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Sadik helped remake international population policy, introducing an agenda focused on women’s health and human rights. Fearless in the face of challenges, Sadik is known for having stood her ground and defended women’s reproductive rights in an audience with Pope John Paul II. Obaid, who succeeded Sadik in 2001, had been the first Saudi woman funded by her government to study at a university in the United States. At UNFPA she built alliances with religious organizations to support women’s reproductive health, and was adamant that culture and religion could be positive forces in achieving women’s human rights. She expanded UNFPA’s focus to include human rights issues including violence against women and the treatment of obstetric fistula. Together, these two women redirected and reinvigorated the UNFPA, improving the lives of the millions of girls and women served by the agency’s work on reproductive rights, poverty eradication, and gender equality.
Learn more
:
Sadik: http://www.unfpa.org/public/site/global/lang/en/pid/4827
Obaid: http://www.unfpa.org/public/site/global/lang/en/pid/4741

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IPPF's Changemakers:
Gill Greer, New Zealand
Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
Carmen Barroso, Brazil
Regional Director of IPPF Western Hemisphere Region
Steven Sinding, USAFormer Director General of IPPF, Senior Fellow at the Guttmacher Institute

Ippf.jpgIssue: Reproductive health and rights
How they deliver for women
: These three heroes transformed the International Planned Parenthood Federation from your grandmother’s genteel family planning organization into a vital advocate for women’s human rights. Sinding, a major theoretician in the population field, became director general in 2002 and led the organization to tackle the “five As”: AIDS, Adolescents, Access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, Advocacy, and the right to safe, legal Abortion. He was followed by Greer who brought to the position on-the-ground experience as Executive Director of the New Zealand Family Planning Association, a feminist passion and the courage to tackle sexuality and sexual rights. As head of the Western Hemisphere Region of IPPF, Barroso broke through the Latin American member associations’ reluctance to move beyond family planning, leading advocacy on comprehensive sexual and reproductive rights, including access to abortion, and expanding collaboration with the feminist community. As a result of their groundbreaking work, IPPF not only provides reproductive healthcare to millions of women worldwide, but has also become one of their most powerful advocates.
Learn more:

Greer: http://www.ippf.org/en/About/People/DG.htm
Barroso: http://www.ippf.org/en/About/People/Dr+Carmen+Barroso.htm
Sinding: http://www.genderhealth.org/about_us/our_board/

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Scientific Visionaries:
Étienne-Émile Baulieu, France
Biochemist and Endrocrinologis at INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research)
Ian Frazer, AustraliaDirector of the Diamantina Institute (DI), at the University of Queensland, Australia
Pak-Chung Ho, ChinaPresident of the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, President of the Asia Oceania Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Robert G. Edwards, UKRecipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2010

Issue: Reproductive Health
How they deliver for women
: Margaret Sanger once said, “No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” Science and technology have served as catalysts for some of the most important transformations in women’s lives, and these four men have delivered breakthroughs that changed reproductive healthcare forever. Baulieu is known worldwide for his scientific work and advocacy on RU486 (mifepristone), the compound used for medical abortion, which made possible safe, private abortions without surgery. Ho’s research cemented the place of levonorgestrel as the emergency contraception of choice, providing that critical second chance for all women who want to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. Edwards successfully pioneered conception through in vitro fertilization, for which he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His work has helped millions of women conceive who otherwise could not have. Frazer is a co-creator of the first HPV vaccine against cervical cancer -- the first vaccine designed to prevent a cancer, and a critical shield against a disease which claims 250,000 lives annually. Together, these four have expanded women’s sexual and reproductive choices, offering women more control over their bodies, their fertility, and their destinies.
Learn more:

Baulieu: http://institut-baulieu.org/biographie
Ho: http://www2.kenes.com/aspire/congress/speaker_CV/PC%20Ho.pdf
Edwards: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2010/edwards.html
Frazer: http://www.uq.edu.au/about/director-di

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European Champions:
Tore Godal, Norway
Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Norway
Bert Koenders, NetherlandsFormer Minister for Development Cooperation, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Rutgers WPF
Andrew Mitchell, UKSecretary of State for International Development

Europeans.jpgIssue: Women’s health and reproductive rights
How they deliver for women
: Together, Mitchell, Koenders and Godal are the architects and guardians of Europe’s progressive, woman-centered aid policy; they have ensured that women in the developing world are at the center of European foreign assistance agendas. Living in countries where women’s equality goes without saying, European women have long enjoyed health, economic and social benefits that far exceed those of women in the rest of the world. But, in no small part thanks to Godal, Koenders and Mitchell, European nations have committed to closing that gap. They have increased funding in the face of declining resources, kept the spotlight on reproductive health through difficult economic times, and ensured a dramatic increase in global attention to, and financing for, maternal health. Whether it involved stepping in to replace lost family planning funds during the George W. Bush administration, keeping reproductive health clinics open around the world; or committing to eradicate violence against women; or dramatically increasing the global budget for maternal health, Mitchell, Koenders, and Godal have kept international attention on the needs of the world’s most vulnerable girls and women -- a remarkable commitment which is transforming the lives of millions.
Learn more:

Godal: http://www.norway.org.et/News_and_events/education/toregodal/
Koenders: http://www.rutgersnissogroep.org/news/bert-koenders-chairman-rutgers-wpf
Mitchell: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-DFID/Our-organisation1/Ministers/Andrew-Mitchell/

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Heads of State:
Jens Stoltenberg, Norway
Prime Minister of Norway
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain – Prime Minister of Spain
Tarja Halonen, Finland – President of Finland
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia President of Liberia

headsofstate.jpgIssue: Gender equality
How they deliver for women
: Political leaders always face a critical decision: take the easy road, or stand up for what’s right. These heads of state opted for the latter, and they have become champions of women’s rights, both nationally and abroad. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway has spearheaded a $1 billion campaign to end child and maternal deaths (the Global Campaign for the Health MDGs), calling upon global leaders to join Norway’s effort. Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero of Spain made history when he appointed women to fill half of Spain’s cabinet positions, the highest proportion in Europe. Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland, is a strong believer in the power of education to promote gender equality, and a striking example of the impact powerful women can have: in 2009, she convened the first International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, gathering almost a thousand female leaders to brainstorm ways to educate and empower women worldwide. Her partner in that endeavor, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, is the first and only female head of state in Africa, and she has made the empowerment of girls and women a priority in post-civil war Liberia, pushing to prosecute violence against women, and emphasizing girls’ education and women’s economic opportunity. For their work in advancing the cause of gender equality and for the examples they have set for the world, we hail these four as true leaders.
Learn more:

Stoltenberg: http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/smk/primeminister/prime-minister-jens-stoltenberg.html?id=1597
Zapatero: http://www.la-moncloa.es/IDIOMAS/9/Presidente/Biografia/index.htm
Halonen: http://www.tpk.fi/public/default.aspx?nodeid=41419&culture=en-US&contentlan=2
Sirleaf: http://www.emansion.gov.lr/content.php?sub=President's%20Biography&related=The%20President

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Photo credits for: Oprah; Muhammad Yunus; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Tarja Halonen
Special thanks to Frances Kissling who brought the idea of this list to Women Deliver and worked to develop the concept.