Ordered Alphabetically by Organization
1. Organization: Backpack Farm
Countries: Kenya, South Sudan
Solution: Africans Feeding Africa
In sub-Saharan Africa, women produce 70% to 80% of food for their communities. Although they are often the drivers of food production, many of these women face growing food insecurity. From certified seeds to safety equipment, Backpack Farm is giving small-scale farmers everything they need to match commercial rates of production–all in a backpack. Backpack Farm also provides women with green agriculture technology, training, and financial assistance. Through its training farms, Backpack Farm has already reached 13,000 farmers and aims to reach 25,000 more across the next two years. This innovative social enterprise model increases the quality and quantity of produce the women harvest, allowing them to earn more money to invest in themselves, their family’s education and health, and their community’s needs.
2. Organization: EQUAL GROUND
Country: Sri Lanka
Solution: EQUAL GROUND
EQUAL GROUND works to advance the social and political rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Questioning (LGBTIQ) people in Sri Lanka by building the technical capacities of individuals and groups, such as rural community-based organizations, LGBTIQ support groups, and activists. The legal system in Sri Lanka implicitly prohibits homosexuality under a broad provision dealing with “gross indecency,” and there are few provisions in place to protect the rights of LGBTIQ individuals. EQUAL GROUND has trained grassroots activists; facilitated the annual South Asian Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Conference and Training in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, Equal Ground completed the first LGBT “HIV/AIDS Stigma Index” in Sri Lanka. EQUAL GROUND also coordinates a “Women Only Counselling Hotline” to meet the psychosocial needs of lesbian and bisexual women in Sri Lanka. Women only counseling is also offered at EQUAL GROUND’s safe space.
3. Organization: Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS)
Country: United States
Solution: Youth Leadership Program for Commercially Sexually Exploited and Domestically Trafficked Girls and Young Women
Founded in 1998 by Rachel Lloyd—who was sexually exploited in her youth—the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) program aims to help young girls, ages 12 to 24, exit the commercial sex industry and rebuild their lives. GEMS’ flagship Youth Leadership Program uses a curriculum created by survivors to help girls make the transition from victims to leaders. Through a 16-week program, girls develop critical thinking, leadership, public speaking, and community organization skills, and graduates become mentors and educators in their communities. Since its inception, GEMS has grown from one survivor’s powerful idea into a nationally-recognized and highly acclaimed organization. It provides a support system to sexually exploited and trafficked girls, and most importantly, helps them take back their lives.
4. Organization: International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Family Health Options Kenya
Solution: Adolescents Count Today
The Adolescents Count Today (ACT) initiative works to meet sexual and reproductive health and rights needs of adolescents affected by HIV. Estimates find that 180,000 children up to the age of 14 and 1.3 million people between the ages of 15 and 49 are living with HIV. Women tend to be at greater risk of HIV infection; country surveys find that approximately 8 to 8.4% of women in Kenya are infected, compared to 4.3 to 5.4% of men. The difference is more pronounced among young people ages 15 to 24 in Kenya, where HIV prevalence is four times greater in young women than young men. ACT’s goal is to improve the quality of life for 8,000 young people ages 10 to 19 living with or affected by HIV in three areas of Kenya. ACT provides empowering forms of health service delivery, targets young girls by providing micro-credit and income-generating activities, and provides skills training to young men and women. ACT is transforming a group of often ignored, vulnerable young people into empowered young adults.
5. Organization: International Relief and Development (IRD)
Solution: Women First
Women First empowers women with a holistic approach that includes small business development and HIV/AIDS and health focused peer education. The program provides business and entrepreneurial training and creates a means for sustainable income generation and financial independence for women, while also increasing knowledge of basic health, HIV/AIDS prevention, and ways to discuss sexual and reproductive health with their children. There are currently 200 women taking part in the program who have accomplished a monthly sales volume of more than $30,000. This model is improving quality of life for their communities by decreasing local inflation on necessary products, such as soap, food items, and candles. Steady income has improved food security, access to health care services, and education. This allows women to help themselves and their families by becoming more involved in peer education and experiencing better health and better relationships.
6. Organization: Population Council
Solution: Abriendo Oportunidades (Creating Opportunities)
Abriendo Oportunidades creates a safe space for young Mayan girls to strengthen their social networks, connect with female mentors, and receive information about reproductive health. Nearly half of the population in Guatemala is indigenous, with 75% of Mayans living in poverty without access to basic services. Many young indigenous girls living in rural areas live in chronic poverty, marry young, have early pregnancies, and do not have a chance to go to school. To give these girls an opportunity for a better future, Abriendo Oportunidades established “community girls’ clubs” that have reached 4,500 young women in Guatemala (ages 8 to 18). The program helps girls stop the cycle of poverty and encourages them to lead the process of change.
7. Organization: UN
Solution: UN Women
In 2010, the United Nations established UN Women (the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women). UN Women works to eliminate discrimination against girls and women, to promote the empowerment of women, and to achieve gender equality. UN Women supports intergovernmental bodies in creating policies and global standards; helps Member States implement those standards with technical assistance or financial support; and ensures that the UN is accountable for its commitment to gender equality. Since its creation, UN Women has played a large role in the UN’s work to address gender inequalities worldwide. Recent UN Women initiatives have included assessing the security situation of Somali women and girls in Somali refugee camps in Kenya; flood disaster response and food distribution in Pakistan; and helping women’s groups to form coalitions during the Egyptian Revolution.
8. Organization: Women for Afghan Women (WAW)
Solution: Women's Rights are Human Rights
Women for Afghan Women (WAW) fights for the rights of disenfranchised women and girls in Afghanistan—the most dangerous country in the world for women, according to a 2011 Thomas Reuters Foundation study. WAW works in Afghanistan to combat social inequities, such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child and forced marriage for Afghan girls through front-line services, and outreach and awareness programs. Since 2001, WAW has opened seven women’s shelters and eight family guidance centers for abused women in Afghanistan. The organization also runs a community center in Queens, New York for Afghan women immigrants. WAW provides counseling, empowerment programs, networking opportunities, shelter, and legal support. WAW is committed to easing the struggle of women and will not stop until “women’s rights are human rights” for Afghan women in Afghanistan and the United States.
9. Organization: World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)
Solution: Helping Girls Realize Their Full Potential As Responsible Citizens of the World – Stop the Violence
It is estimated that six out of 10 women worldwide will be subjected to violence in their lifetime. However, the issue receives little attention worldwide. The World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ (WAGGGS) Stop the Violence: Speak Out for Girls’ Rights campaign aims to fill this void by making young women aware of their rights and helping build a global movement to end violence against women. As part of the campaign, WAGGGS is introducing a non-formal educational curriculum and a scout badge to empower girls to understand and assert their rights. The program will be rolled out in 20 countries throughout 2012 and eventually be available to all members in 145 countries. Through education and advocacy, WAGGGS is building the next generation of activists for women’s and girls’ rights.
10. Organization: Women LEAD
Solution: Addressing Poverty by Building the Capacity of Future Leaders
The Women LEAD initiative builds the capacity of future female leaders in Nepal to tackle the root causes of poverty and discrimination. Women in Nepal face many challenges: one-third of girls ages 15 to 19 are married, and 60% of women are illiterate. Women LEAD, which was founded by two Georgetown students in January 2010, conducts two-week leadership trainings that equip young Nepali girls with the skills, resources, mentoring, and opportunities to become catalysts for social change. To date, 200 promising students (ages 14 to 19) have graduated through the program and taken their skills back to their communities. This organization shows that when young women are given the necessary resources and tools, they have the passion and vision to solve the most challenging problems of poverty.
Organization: Population Council, Ethiopian Ministry of Youth and Sport
Solution: Biruh Tesfa (Bright Future) Program
Biruh Tesfa (Bright Future) aims to protect the rights and improve the health of out-of-school adolescent girls in urban slums in 17 cities across Ethiopia. Through this program, trained female mentors go door-to-door to identify girls, aged 7-24, who would want to join girls’ clubs. Mentors provide them with training and information on basic literacy, life skills, financial literacy and savings, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention.
Organization: Global Grassroots
Country: Rwanda, Uganda
Solution: Academy for Conscious Change
Global Grassroots Academy for Conscious Change helps female victims of violence and rape in Rwanda and Uganda become leaders and innovators in their communities. The Academy is an 18-month program that supports social change ventures designed by women for women in post-conflict countries. The program has had successful outcomes in Rwanda, where members of the Academy have started their own sustainable nonprofit organizations that serve vulnerable women and girls in their communities.
Organization: International Center for Research on Women, TAMASHA
Solution: Vitu Newala: Participatory Research and Action to Empower and Protect Tanzanian Girls
Vitu Newala, which translates to “Newala Youth Can,” empowers girls and young women in Tanzania to break the silence that has perpetuated their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. The project engages girls and young women in research projects and encourages them to educate their peers and promote community discussions on reducing their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. By giving young girls a voice, this project is identifying risks and solutions that may not be apparent otherwise.
Organization: The South Kivu Women's Media Association (AFEM-SK)
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Solution: The South Kivu Women's Media Association (AFEM-SK)
Created in 2003, the South Kivu Women's Media Association (AFEM-SK) is a nonprofit organization that works for the advancement of women in professional journalism by equipping them with the skills to produce their own weekly radio broadcasts. AFEM-SK launches awareness campaigns aimed at rural women to promote issues such as good governance and gender equality.
Organization: One Heart World-Wide
Countries: Nepal, Mexico
Solution: Foot Soldiers of Change
Through the Foot Soldiers of Change program, One Heart World-Wide trains men and women to help local pregnant women access a trained birth attendant and receive care during obstetric emergencies. Because they understand local beliefs about childbirth, these foot soldiers are well-equipped to address each woman’s challenges and to prevent the deaths of mothers and their infants in remote rural areas of the world. In the past year, the organization reached 200 Female Community Health Volunteers in Nepal who then reached out to over 2,000 pregnant women.
Organization: Vital Voices
Solution: Global Women's Political Leadership and Good Governance Program
The Global Women’s Political Leadership and Good Governance Program at Vital Voices works to strengthen female government officials’ ability to govern effectively. The program is developing a network of female government officials to serve as mentors and share best practices for “effective governance.” The goal is to build women’s capacity to shape public policy in their home countries. The program will be officially launched in September 2012.
Organization: Nike Foundation, American Jewish World Service, EMpower Foundation, Firelight Foundation, Global Fund for Children, Global Fund for Women, Mama Cash
Solution: Grassroots Girls Initiative (GGI)
The Grassroots Girls Initiative (GGI) provides long-term support to grassroots organizations that empower adolescent girls to define and develop programs and advocacy campaigns to meet the most critical needs of girls, as defined by girls. GGI is creating a network of adolescent girls, grassroots organizations, and women’s rights advocates who can share practical, innovative local solutions on a global scale.
Organization: Ashoka, EngenderHealth Maternal Health Task Force
Countries: Brazil, Nigeria, Iran, Pakistan, South Africa, Argentina, Ethiopia, Kenya, Oman, India, U.S., Canada
Solution: The Young Champions of Maternal Health Program
The Young Champions of Maternal Health Program is a fellowship program that supports a new generation of passionate and committed women’s health advocates and innovators. The goal is to create a network of young people who will work to end the cycle of maternal disability and death worldwide. In 2010, 15 “Young Champions” were selected to spend nine months working abroad with maternal health Ashoka Fellows. At the end of their work study, each Young Champion designed a concrete, innovative solution addressing a maternal health challenge to implement in their home country.
Organization: Women for Women International
Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria
Solution: Men's Leadership Program
The Men’s Leadership Program (MLP) brings together a group of male leaders from critical sectors of society to educate them about crucial women’s rights issues. The men are taught to be advocates for reproductive and family health and to address issues such as domestic violence in their communities. They are also encouraged to leverage their community influence on behalf of women.
Solution: Women-Centered Disaster Relief
MADRE’s Women-Centered Disaster Relief initiative provides women with the resources to distribute aid in their communities after natural disasters. In the months after disasters, these grassroots women’s groups continue to be a lifeline, providing shelter, healthcare, food aid, and emotional support. Through this program, women are trained on how to ensure that emergency aid is reaching community members most in need.
Organization: Future Generations
Countries: Afghanistan, India, Peru
Solution: Sharing Pregnancy Histories to Empower and Train Rural Women Leaders
Sharing Pregnancy Histories asks women to share their experiences related to pregnancy and childbirth in an effort to help women in rural communities to make more informed health decisions. These experiences are used as the basis of subsequent trainings and facilitator manuals for pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, and other issues. By sharing stories, rural women have received education, acquired knowledge from listening to others, and become more communicative about maternal health issues.
Organization: East West Institute (EWI)
Countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan
Solution: Strengthening Women’s Political Participation: Regional Cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan
East West Institute’s (EWI) Strengthening Women’s Political Participation project seeks to counter gender inequality in both Afghanistan and Pakistan by strengthening the role of female Members of Parliament. Specifically, the program aims to improve female political participation and forge connections between female Members of Parliament in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In June 2011, EWI facilitated the first-ever visit of a delegation of Afghan women parliamentarians to Islamabad. There participants adopted the Islamabad Plan, which maps a path for future cooperation and joint advocacy on women’s rights.
Organization: Dalia Association
Solution: Women Supporting Women (WSW): Community-Controlled Grant-making
The Dalia Association’s Women Supporting Women (WSW) community-controlled grant-making program aims to empower women in Palestine and among the Palestinian Diaspora. WSW trains women, through actual experience, to mobilize local funding and then empower them to decide how to invest the development resources they’ve acquired back into their community. The initiative also mobilizes women and women’s networks to strengthen their assets, increase their collective impact and build their credibility as leaders in their communities.
Countries: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan
Solution: Youth Theater for Peace (YTP)
IREX’s Youth Theater for Peace (YTP) program helps youth theater groups in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan create interactive plays addressing issues such as intra-familial violence, early marriage, bride kidnapping, and lack of access to education for girls. The plays are performed in rural areas or small towns and feature men and women from local communities. These performances spark discussion about gender issues and prompt actors and audience members to analyze their own roles in perpetuating violence and limiting women’s opportunities. Teachers, school directors, and local officials working with the program report that these dialogues have encouraged girls to stay in school.
Organization: V-DAY, UNICEF, Panzi Foundation
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Solution: City of Joy
The City of Joy offers survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo a place to heal and provides them with opportunities to develop leadership skills through innovative programming. Conceived, created, and developed by women on the ground, the City of Joy provides up to 180 women a year, aged 14-35, with psychotherapy and an extensive training program comprised of literacy, economics, and sexual education. The organization graduated its first class of gender-based violence survivors this year.