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Last week, dozens of women in Saudi Arabia got behind the wheel. Driving while female may seem trivial or mundane to us, but this is a major act of courage for Saudi women. While driving is technically not illegal for women in Saudi Arabia, they are banned from obtaining driver’s licenses, along with countless other acts of independence. Yet over 60 women (most equipped with international driver’s licenses and experience) coordinated a “drive-in” and posted videos of their activity online, continuing a small but persistent movement for improving women’s rights.

The Associated Press reports that the first time a Saudi female driving protest took place, in 1990, 50 women were arrested, had their passports confiscated and lost their jobs. But not a single woman was arrested on Wednesday. Activist and professor Aziza Youssef explained that they plan to continue driving and posting photos and videos, which they hope will normalize the notion of women driving. Check out some of their videos on The Guardian’s website.

Youssef and the other female Saudi drivers are an inspiration for women empowerment efforts everywhere, including partners and participants in Jolkona’s Women and Girls Give Together campaign. We believe that when given the right economic support and educational tools to rise out of poverty and oppression, women can make an incredible impact on the world.

If you want to make an impact of your own for women and girls, there’s only a few days left in this month’s Give Together campaign, with collective funds going to support Jubilee Women’s Center, MADRE, and the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation. We have $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation, which will double these Give Together donations and amplify October gifts to our Give Direct projects that also support women and girls.

Time is running out: help empower a woman or girl today!

Photo by MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

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Our final Partner Spotlight for October’s Give Together for Women and Girls campaign is the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation. This organization changes the lives of young women in Nepal by giving them the means to pursue higher education, either at colleges or trade schools. We asked them some questions so you can get to know them.

Remember, we have $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for October’s Give Together campaign for Women & Girls. Join Give Together and your donation will be doubled this month!

LorrieSunitaMarilynWhat’s your mission? Why? What inspires your organization?

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation empowers underprivileged young women in Nepal by providing access to higher education. We believe that by helping one woman at time we can make a meaningful difference for that individual and the world – that the rippling effect is monumental. Our goal is to empower young women through higher education, to help them become confident, self-reliant, productive citizens in their country.

In Nepal, young women face numerous obstacles to education, including extreme poverty and cultural stigmas related to gender, class or caste, and, in many cases, disability. Most families don’t have the money or motivation to send girls to school, and a majority of young women are married by age 15. Less than 3% of Nepali women go on to college, so every scholarship we give makes a difference.

We have tremendous respect for our scholarship recipients. Most are from very poor, often very remote villages. Some are from regions that suffer from human trafficking, others have overcome disabilities to pursue their education. Their powerful personal stories, professional goals, courage, and perseverance continually amaze and inspire us.

What’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

Over the past decade, the Foundation has awarded $100,000 in scholarships to 39 young women in Nepal. This year, we broke our record — and awarded 21 scholarships. But we need your support in order to renew these scholarships for next year. Our Give Together goal is to raise the equivalent of at least one student’s room and board fees for a year.

If Jolkona’s Give Together members raise $250 for your organization, what’s our impact?

$250 will provide room and board for one BMKF scholar for a whole school year! Compare that to the cost of room and board for a U.S. college student — which is closer to $2,500 per quarter at a Washington State college.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members support your project?

This $250 will make a life-changing difference for a courageous young woman in Nepal, who would not otherwise be able to afford the cost of living while earning a degree at a college or university in a community that is far from her home village.

Ganga at Janakpur, NEpalWe love impact reports at Jolkona, do you have a favorite story about how your organization changed someone’s life?

All of our scholarship recipients are passionate advocates for promoting women’s education and women’s rights in their country, and most plan to pursue work that will allow them to give back and support the communities they come from.

At age 28, Lali Kumari is unmarried and single-handedly runs a health care outpost in a remote village where she serves as a midwife and health care provider to people who walk for hours to receive her care. Lali learned to take care of wounds as a 14-year-old nurse in the Maoist army. Last spring, she approached some filmmakers from Seattle and asked if they knew of any scholarships for women. With her BMKF scholarship, Lali is pursuing a four-year nursing degree. She believes that with advanced skills she will be able to save more lives in her remote community.

Ganga Tamang was abducted as a child and trafficked in India for years before being rescued. She started school late and graduated from high school at age 23. Ganga is studying to be a social worker and she works as an activist, helping other women and girls who have survived human trafficking experiences.

Sunita Dangi was severely burned as a toddler and grew up disabled. She is pursuing sociology and rural development studies, and she volunteers for a rehabilitation program that helps people with disabilities. Her goal is to show other disadvantaged and disabled girls that it is possible to be successful, self-reliant, and pursue their dreams.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for helping empower women in Nepal! Please visit our website or Facebook page to learn more.

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your October contribution to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation, or one of our other Women and Girls projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS POST WAS UPDATED OCT. 2 WITH INFORMATION ABOUT A MATCH CAMPAIGN FOR THIS MONTH.

The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change. That’s why empowering women, promoting gender equality, and improving maternal health are emphasized in the Millennium Development Goals, the U.N. initiative to significantly reduce extreme poverty around the world.  Improving women’s lives has a positive impact on society; on average, 90 percent of each dollar invested in a woman is returned to her family and community.1377587_10151597205727396_451819059_n

Starting at just $10, join Jolkona and Give Together to three projects that not only change the lives of specific women locally and globally, but also help advance these Millennium Development Goals.

sudan madreMADRE

MADRE is an international human rights organization that addresses the urgent needs of women in crisis. By partnering with women locally, regionally and internationally, MADRE believes they can create lasting solutions to the world’s toughest problems, such as social injustice, inequality and sustainability issues.

Give Together‘s MADRE project supports women farmers in East Sudan, training them in sustainable agricultural practices to address malnutrition, provide basic education and access to literacy and health programs. Women contribute 80 percent of the food crops in Sudan, but are excluded from government aid programs. The Give Together community’s donations will give a woman farmer the means to support herself and her family despite the challenges of environmental degradation, the threat of armed conflict, and generational poverty. For every $250 we raise, MADRE can send two Sudanese women to a 2-day agricultural training program and buy enough sorghum, sesame and millet seed for 10 women this year.

Jubilee Women’s Center

The Jubilee Women’s Center is a Seattle-based organization that provides training and support to help women transition out of homelessness.

jubilee center

Where many homeless women come from a life of poverty and abuse and lack the job skills to be successful in today’s careers, the Jubilee Women’s Center has a proven record of success in helping these women achieve sustainable employment and independent living.

Give Together to help expand Jubilee’s Learning and Opportunity center so they can not only provide training to the center’s residents, but also women in the greater Seattle area. For every $250 that Give Together raises for this project, Jubilee can offer a 4-class career-building series to 12 women, including resume writing and job interview skills. With your help, these women will be able to find jobs and achieve independence.

Bo M. Karlsson Foundation

Most Nepali women are married by the age of 15, and only 27 percent are literate. These are huge barriers towards women becoming financially productive and independent.

Bo M. Karlsson Foundation

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation provides young women and girls in Nepal with access to higher education, which reduces income inequality and empowers young women to become independent and productive agents of change in their communities. For every $250 we raise, the foundation can provide room and board for one female student for an entire year. Give Together to help a young Nepali woman attend a trade school or college.

Check the Jolkona Blog throughout the month for more detailed information about each project. UPDATE: This month’s donations will be matched by the Seattle International Foundation, so our contributions will go twice as far!

Join Jolkona to Give Together for Women & Girls in October, and make a big difference for women in Africa, Asia and the United States.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Last month, Jolkona held its third annual Give2Girls Campaign, in honor of International Women’s Day, and Women’s History month. We partnered with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF), with the goal of empowering, educating, and improving the lives of girls and women all over the world. Throughout March, SIF matched each donation to one of the 30+ projects that impacted women, up to $250 per donation. This was amazingly successful, and the campaign was fully funded, making over $5000 in just around three weeks!

The Give2Girls campaign had a truly global impact, affecting the lives of women all over the world. From $100 in Haiti, to $600 here in the U.S, to over $1600 in Nepal, each dollar helped to improve health and sanitation, and education. Here are some of the impacts that your generosity accomplished:

  • 1 emergency blood transfusion provided in Palestine
  • 2 technology classes provided in United States
  • 9 girls received education support in Nepal
  • 4 weeks of food provided in Afghanistan
  • 4 women saved from honor killing in Iraq
  • 16 months of oral contraceptives provided in Nepal
  • 10 health kits provided in Somalia
  • 30 books provided in Myanmar
  • 40 people sponsored to a workshop in Kenya
  • 7 women received education in Afghanistan
  • 2 pre-natal examinations provided in Nepal
  • 2 hygiene kits provided in Haiti
  • 2 life-skill classes sponsored in United States
  • 2 “safe birth” kits provided in Palestine
  • 2 stoves provided in Costa Rica
  • 16 girls received school supplies in Liberia
  • 2 weeks of stipend provided in United States
  • 12 girls rescued from servitude in Nepal
  • 2 jobs created in India
  • 2 postpartum classes provided in Japan
  • 2 children received dental care in Bolivia
  • 2 business literacy classes provided in Ghana
  • 6 school girls received uniforms in Liberia
  • 100 students received learning materials in Myanmar
  • 4 women received bio-intensive farming training in Kenya
  • 1 emergency medical kit provided in Palestine
  • 2 uniforms provided in Nepal

We also featured interesting projects and organizations that made supporting and empowering women the center of their work.

  • We featured MADRE, an organization that addresses the immediate needs of women in crisis. In conjunction with Give2Girls, 2 safe birth kits, and 1 emergency medical kit were provided in Palestine, and 4 women in Iraq were saved from honor killing.
  • We also featured the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation’s project of funding higher education for women in Nepal. Last month, 9 Nepali girls received educational support.
  • In addition, we talked about iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program, which brings women grassroots leaders to Seattle for leadership training. 2 weeks of stipend were provided through Give2Girls.

Even though March is over, you can still take the opportunity to donate to a project that supports women. Small donations can have a huge impact in the lives of women and on their communities, as they tend to reinvest 90% of the funding they receive. Through Lumana, you can fund a woman entrepreneur in Ghana with working capital, with a donation of $120 , or you can donate $50 dollars to provide a woman in Nicaragua with a bag of seeds, so she can feed her family . It is never too late to empower woman, as many face adversity every day.

The 3rd Annual Give2Girls Campaign was quickly and successfully funded through your support, enthusiasm, and generosity. With your help, Give2Girls 2014 can be just as successful. Thank You!

You can also help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter, and Pinterest.

With the Give2Girls campaign launched, and in the midst of Women’s History Month, it is more relevant than ever to explore the ways that we can empower women across the world. There are so many challenges that women in developing countries face, however, understanding which solution has the most significant impact for these women can, in itself, be a challenge. Can a single factor increase literacy, reduce extreme poverty, and reduce gender inequality? Yes, and the answer is higher education.

Having graduated from university rather recently, higher education is still very much on my mind, and all the highs and lows it brings with it. Did I spend a lot of time worrying about increasing tuition, getting the best grades I could, and other standard concerns? Of course I did. But now that I have been released, do I feel empowered, like I have all the tools I need to be successful? Once again, of course. Was I extremely fortunate to have these opportunities in the first place? Absolutely. However, many young women do not have the same access to higher education as I did. Of course with enough help, that can be changed. Projects, such as the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation, which works in Nepal, can begin to alleviate some of the severe global inequality of higher education. 

What is the problem?

In Nepal, where the cost of a higher education institution or technical school is around $500 for a year of schooling, the cost is still prohibitive. Many – mostly women – cannot afford it, even when it would drastically improve their ability to participate in the workforce. In addition to the cost, many women experience difficulty obtaining a higher education due to cultural restrictions, and because they lack a basic education in the first place. In a country where many women marry before the age of fifteen, and have a significantly lower literacy rate than men, the opportunity to gain a higher education is certainly a rare opportunity. Unfortunately, many women who are hungry for the chance to further explore their education are unable to do so.

How can we change this?

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation is aiming to turn around the trend of undereducated and under-empowered women in Nepal by funding higher education. The project helps women access basic amenities such as transportation, Internet, books, room and board, and tuition.
Why is this project so important?

  • Providing for a higher education for women in Nepal not only aids with greater opportunities, but also alleviates extreme hunger and poverty. 
  • Better educated women have marry later, and have fewer children
  • With the training to access jobs in higher paying fields, women will significantly increase their earning power, and will be able to reinvest their added incomes for their families. 
  • Giving women the same access to higher education would help to alleviate gender inequality. 
  • Women would be better able to access high-paying jobs in male-dominated fields, such as engineering.

Through a donation of as little as $25, which would be doubled up to $250 through the Give2Girls campaign, a young woman in Nepal can have more opportunities than ever to have a career, gain a better quality of life for her and her family, and become empowered.
Give today.

You can also be a part of this movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest.

GET INVOLVED!