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In honor of International Women’s Day, I joined other nonprofit communicators at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Friday to discuss ways we could use social media to promote women’s health initiatives, including PATH’s redesigned female condom, self-administered contraceptive shots (see photo — so tiny!) and low-tech cervical and breast cancer screenings.

This #GatesSocial also got me thinking about more ways to inform and engage donors for Jolkona’s 4th annual Give to Girls campaign, which is crowdfunding for 10 projects that save lives, educate and empower women locally and globally. What would inspire you? We’d love to produce something like the Girl Effect video:

Stay tuned for some new Jolkona media for this year’s #Give2Girls. In the meantime, check out the traditional press release about the campaign.

SEATTLE – Launched on International Women’s Day (March 8) and continuing through Women’s History Month, Jolkona’s 4thannual Give to Girls campaign is crowdfunding for 10 innovative projects to lift up women and girls in the United States and strategic regions of Latin America, Africa and Asia.

“We inspire the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today,” says Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona co-founder and CEO. “Empowering women is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty around the world. Invest in a healthy and educated girl today, and she will be able to reinvest in her family, her community, and our world tomorrow.”

From now through March 31, donors can choose among nine high-impact projects related to education, maternal health and empowerment. Starting at the $5 level, the options range from supporting job training for homeless women in Seattle topromoting female literacy in Afghanistan to funding counseling services for rape survivors in Haiti.

The bonus project will be selected by members of Jolkona’s monthly Give Together program: starting at the $10 level, participants join a private Facebook group to review proposals from nonprofit partners and determine which one should be awarded the community’s collective grant. For this campaign, Give Together is also accepting one-time donations, in addition to monthly subscriptions.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on Facebook and Twitter

 

We’ve posted a lot before about family planning, and why women are the key to the future, but I think this infographic presents the issue (and a solution!) along a slightly different tack. Girls who become pregnant before 18 years of age are at much higher risk of complications during birth, not to mention that they are often forced to drop out of school to care for their baby. This infographic shows how these potentially life-ruining births can be nearly completely eliminated.

www.girleffect.org

Take a look at some of our projects that work to empower girls, often to avoid child marriage:

Empower the Girls of Nepal: Mentor a girl from the lowest caste to become a leader in her community, and in turn empower other girls.

Ignite Girls’ Leadership in Pakistan: Run by the same group as the first project, Mentor a girl in Pakistan to become an agent for change, and a future mentor to other girls in her community.

Promote Education of Needy Girls in Tanzania: One of the best ways to combat adolescent pregnancy is to keep girls in school. Help these girls do just that.

If these aren’t enough, Jolkona has many more projects that empower girls in order to avoid early pregnancy.

Check out what Jolkona is up to on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Before you read on, go check this website out. No, actually, click that link and take a look.

No Controversy is a site designed to facilitate awareness and dialogue about women who lack access to modern contraceptives. It was implemented with the fundamental goal of separating the use of contraceptives from abortion, and focusing on the benefits of family planning. It was also designed to generate hype for the London Family Planning Summit.

On July 11th, hundreds of delegates from 69 countries, NGOs and the UN gathered in London for the Family Planning Summit, an event aiming to revitalize support for family planning initiatives. In recent years, family planning has been pushed out of the global spotlight by issues such as HIV/AIDS, or by ideological arguments making it a sticky subject. The summit, hosted by Melinda Gates and Britain’s Department for International Development (DID), was put on to galvanize discussion about and support for family planning. The summit brought donor countries and groups in contact with governments of developing countries, who have created plans to increase education and access to contraception.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Melinda Gates speak with youth at the Summit

Why is this Important?

 

As stated in a recent Guardian article, Millennium development goal (MDG) 5 universal access to reproductive health, which is measured principally by access to family planning is the MDG least likely to be met by the 2015 deadline. But increasing access to contraceptives can drop maternal deaths by up to a third, because it means less high risk births such as births before the age of 18 and births spaced too closely. More than 220 million sexually active women say they do not want children but have no access to contraceptives. The need is there.

Increasing contraceptive use is a two-fold battle.

  • On one end, ideological arguments lock up aid by claiming that contraceptives will increase sexual promiscuity, or by linking it with abortion or population control.
  • On the other end, there is often misinformation about contraceptive use, so even if they are available, they might go unused. It is not enough just to provide access; women also need to be educated about the many options available to them, their side effects, and so on.

Sisters Brenda and Atupele (aged 16 and 18) both dropped out of school when they became pregnant, severely limiting their potential and putting their lives at risk

What are the Benefits?

 

The goal reached by the London Summit is to provide access to roughly half of the 220 million women lacking it by 2020, and organizers estimate this will cost 4 billion U.S. dollars in addition to what is already provided for. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

  • The statistics: “By 2020, the collective efforts announced at the summit will result in 200,000 fewer women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, more than 110 million fewer unintended pregnancies, over 50 million fewer abortions, and nearly three million fewer babies dying in their first year of life.” (London Family Planning Summit)
  • Beyond statistics: Planning when to have children empowers women to become more educated, and to earn more money. It also allows families to decide how many children they will have, meaning they can provide them with a better quality of life. Countries which are trending towards smaller family sizes have seen increases in education, prosperity, and GDP. Melinda Gates sums this up well in her TED talk.
  • Multi-faceted impact: Much like improved sanitation, family planning helps nearly all the MDGs, especially those relating to maternal and child mortality, which are notoriously difficult to change.

What Can I Do?

You can have meaningful impact in three simple ways.

  1. Perhaps you already have, but take the pledge on www.no-controversy.com. Show your support for this cause.
  2. Donate to our projects aimed at improving access to contraception! Project 92 funds contraceptives directly, and Project 200 gives women the ability to educate their communities about health issues.
  3. Share this blog post. Start a discussion about contraceptives. Raise awareness and dispel misinformation.

Stay in touch with Jolkona on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you are passionate about this subject, attend the #S4SC event and donate to Supporting Women Health Workers!

The loss of life is brutal. The estimates are catastrophic. Every year 365,000 women die of pregnancy related complications. Every year 3,200,000 infants die from mostly preventable conditions. Every year 20,000,000 unsafe abortions are performed, virtually all because of unwanted pregnancies. 20 million. It is horrifying. This can be changed. Take a few moments to look at this infographic. Click to enlarge it. Enlarge the parameters of your understanding. Engender change below.

Here are four projects featured in our Give2Girls campaign which are right now changing the lives of mothers and infants the globe over:

  • iLeap tackles postpartum depression for women in Japan. Make a difference here.
  • MADRE nourishes the needs of rape victims in Haiti Displacement Camps. Support the women of Haiti here.
  • Himalayan Healthcare runs essential family planning clinics for women in Nepal. Keep a clinic open here.
  • Calcutta Kids ensures healthy children by protecting vulnerable mothers in India. Protect these mothers here.

There is still time to double your difference with our matching campaign. Go to our campaign page for more information.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share the love with your friends.

Tweet using the #give2girls hashtag.

GET INVOLVED!