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Girls smiling with books in front of them
By
Deanna Neiers
Photo Credit
Plan International

Women and girls are often the faces of poverty. And they are essential to overcoming it. You have likely seen the statistics – women have fewer resources and less power compared to men, and they can experience further inequality because of their class, ethnicity and age. Yet, we have also seen the difference made when women have equal job opportunities, health care, education, decision-making power and freedom from violence. When women and girls can make their own choices and exercise their collective voice, amazing things happen.  

That is why we are devoting the month of October to focus on women and girls. Throughout the month, we will highlight six of our charity partners and their work in this cause area.  
 
As a woman with a daughter, this cause is deeply personal to me. I am incredibly motivated to ensure she grows up with equal opportunities and rights so she can reach her full potential. All girls deserve that chance, and these charity partners are helping to make it a reality.  

If you’re passionate about women and girls, give to our Women and Girls High Impact Fund to support the work of all six organizations at once.   

Women for Women International

The organization uses an integrated approach to invest in women’s power by being a learning organization. Women for Women analyzes data, communicates with teams around the world and listens to women themselves to constantly evaluate their programs.  

One of their programs, “Stronger Women, Stronger Nations,” helps women break the isolation of war, conflict and gender discrimination to realize their own power. The 12-month program gathers women into groups of 25 to cultivate a safe, women-only space to learn and grow. Not only does this offer women the opportunity to form tight social circles of support, they also learn job skills, how to run a business, health knowledge, and about their rights.  

The program has transformed many lives including Sameera from Iraq. She said:  

“War took everything from us including my home and my husband’s job. With six children, life became difficult. Horrible. I often sat at home with nothing to do, living with depression. I felt helpless and hopeless.” 

Life was rough in a refugee camp until a friend encouraged her to join the program.  It helped her to get out of the house and see what other women were also experiencing. Her anger and stress felt manageable for the first time, and she made deep friendship connections. Additionally, she learned sewing skills and is planning to work as a tailor to earn a living for her and her family. Sameera is just one example of the transformative work that Women for Women International does.      

PLAN International

PLAN International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls, striving for a more just world. 

Their Girls Get Equal campaign is a rallying cry for equality. Girls are done being silenced and ignored and PLAN International is providing resources to help girls (and everyone else) speak up. How-to videos, guides, quizzes, social media templates and other content is available to inspire action. They also encourage everyone to make the pledge “I won’t stop until girls get equal.” 

Men are also key in helping to end inequality for women. PLAN International acknowledges the important role fathers play in creating an equal environment at home and in the community. They spotlight 5 fathers making a difference:  

  1. The father who is fighting FGM in Ethiopia. 
  2. The father who is breaking the cycle of child marriage in Bangladesh.  
  3. The father who is smashing menstrual hygiene taboos in Uganda. 
  4. The father who is pushing for inclusive education in Guatemala. 
  5. The father who supports girls’ economic empowerment in India.   

What inspiring stories!  

World Vision ®

“World Vision believes that it’s possible to end extreme poverty. But it won’t happen as long as half the world is held back. Every woman and girl has the right to reach her full potential.” 

World Vision is a global Christian humanitarian organization that partners with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. 

Their Strong Women Strong World™ campaign is a movement of women, men and young people who are using their voices and resources to inspire change and improve the lives of women and girls globally. Personally, I have been lucky enough to attend a Strong Women Strong World™ luncheon in New York City and was deeply moved by what I saw. The organization is truly dedicated to lifting women up. Here are a few initiatives they are working on: 

  • Home-based health care so she can be born healthy
  • Access to clean water close to home, so she can stay healthy and go to school instead of spending her days walking miles for dirty water. 
  • Separate latrines and private sanitary rooms at schools so she can stay in class even when she has her period. 
  • Protection from violence and harmful traditional practices, so she can marry when and who she chooses
  • Economic opportunities such as vocational training and access to financial services, so she can thrive.

AJWS (American Jewish World Service)

American Jewish World Service is the leading Jewish organization working to fight poverty and pursue justice in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Through philanthropy and advocacy, they respond to the most pressing issues of our time — from disasters, genocide and hunger, to the persecution of women and minorities worldwide. 

EVERY TWO SECONDS, ANOTHER GIRL GETS MARRIED 

One issue in particular is at the forefront of their work: ending child marriage. Each year, 15 million girls around the world get married before turning 18. We see that child brides are more likely to drop out of school, experience violence and live in poverty. In the developing world, 1 out of 3 girls get married before age 18. India has the highest number of child brides in the world, so the charity has a strong presence there. 

To improve the lives of girls facing child marriage in India, AJWS listened closely to their in-country partners. Based on those insights, they developed a comprehensive approach to address the root causes of the practice. This “Four A’s” approach focuses on: 

  1. Aspirations. Changing cultural beliefs around gender roles and encouraging women and girls to consider futures that previously seemed out of reach. 
  2. Agency. Helping girls develop the ability to choose and to act independently so they can advance their own goals 
  3. Availability. Increasing the availability of institutions, policies and services that enhance the ability of girls and young women to pursue jobs and education and realize their sexual health and rights. 
  4. Access. Ensure girls and young women can access resources and services and work to overcome resistance from their families and communities. 

By striving toward these four goals, AJWS and its partners are working to give adolescent girls the power to transform their lives — and the freedom to choose if, when and whom to marry.  See one of many success stories here: Sonali’s Story.

ICRW (International Center for Research on Women)  

ICRW is the world's premier research institute focused on tackling challenges facing women and girls worldwide. The organization identifies women’s contributions as well as the obstacles that prevent them from being economically strong and able to fully participate in society. ICRW then translates these insights into a path of action that honors women’s rights, ensures gender equality and creates the conditions in which all women can thrive. 

ICRW works on a range of issues that impact the lives of women and girls globally including: 

  • Adolescence and Youth 
  • Child Marriage 
  • Clean Energy 
  • Cost of Sex-Based Harassment  
  • Economic Empowerment 
  • Men and Masculinities 
  • Mental Health 
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 
  • Violence Against Women 

Inequality is a complex issue. ICRW is examining all sides of it and working tirelessly to end it.       

Episcopal Relief & Development

Globally, more than 300,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Although the numbers have decreased by nearly 50% since 1990, this still means there are 800 preventable deaths every day – 99% of which occur in developing countries.  

Episcopal Relief & Development facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives in communities struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. They collaborate with communities around the world to address three life-changing priorities – women, children and climate – creating authentic, lasting results that can be sustained by the communities themselves. One focus area under their priority of helping women is maternal and child health.   

Woman holding child and smiling

In order to reduce illness and death among expectant and new mothers and their children, Episcopal Relief & Development supports local initiatives that train health workers and community volunteers to actively engage with families and monitor child health. They are saving lives by encouraging pregnant women to seek prenatal care, promoting nutrition for mother and child, and ensuring that babies receive the recommended vaccinations. 
 
The organization began working in Mozambique in 2005 and has seen incredible declines in malnutrition among young children. Too many children were dying from easily preventable and treatable diseases, such as malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections, malnutrition and parasites. In response, Episcopal Relief & Development has mobilized communities to strengthen their own health systems by establishing oversight committees and nominating volunteers to receive education and outreach training. 
“Years ago, in every 10 children we found three with problems of malnutrition,” said Alen, a member of the health committee in Mtumba, a remote village in the northern region of Lago District in Mozambique. “But when we visited the families [this year], we didn’t find any child with problems of malnutrition.”

Woman smiling with a child behind her. "Every woman should live a life free from violence and be treated with dignity and respect."

Want to get involved to help lift women and girls up? First, we hope you will consider a donation to the Women and Girls High Impact Fund. Donations will go directly to the above six organizations and help further their critical work for women and girls. 

Here are a few more ideas to learn and share about this cause: 

  • Invite one of the six featured charities to a Lunch and Learn with your colleagues. Email us and we will organize it for you. 
  • Become a global champion and help spread the word about global causes through your network. 
  • Visit our Employee Giving Hub for the Women and Girls Cause Kit, as well as other resources for your workplace. 

We hope you will join us this October to celebrate women and girls around the world and fight for them to have equal opportunities throughout their entire lives.

Deanna Neiers

Deanna Neiers

Deanna Neiers is the director of the northeast and central regions at Global Impact, and leads corporate and charity partnership efforts in her regions.  She is passionate about the organization’s alliance of international nonprofits and loves inspiring employees to donate to them.  She also loves to travel, eat out and explore the city.  Though born in the Midwest, Deanna has lived in New York City for the past 17 years which has earned her the title of an “official” New Yorker.  She and her husband frequently ponder one important decision—should they raise their two young children as Cubs fans or Yankees fans?  Only time will tell.  

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