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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.

To celebrate and participate in Women’s History Month, we’re proud to be launching our third Give2Girls matching campaign, running through the rest of March – starting today! We’re dedicating twenty four days to improving the lives of thousands of women and girls around the globe. This year we’re partnering with our local champions of change, the Seattle International Foundation.

How does the campaign work?

Give to any of our 30+ projects related to women or girls, and we will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to $250 per donor! Even better than that, though, we will double your proof! So donate $15 to provide workshops and other business opportunities for Peruvian women, and we’ll not only match your donation, but we’ll send you two impact reports. The campaign is being matched up to a total of $2,500.

Why this campaign?

Here are just some of the reasons:

  • Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
  • The total global population of girls ages 10 to 24 – already the largest in history – is expected to peak in the next decade.
  • One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
  • Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.
  • Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.

(statistics taken from girleffect.org)

I’ve said this many a time, and I won’t apologize for saying it again: at Jolkona it is necessary that we talk about statistics, of course. Statistics give us the overarching picture. But what fuels the fire that drives us is the story behind each statistic – the individual. And this is what we want you to see. This is why we give you, the philanthropist, not just the chance to change statistics, but to actually glimpse into the life of the individual behind the statistic by seeing exactly how your donation makes an impact.

Our Give2girls campaign is not about changing statistics; it’s about changing people’s lives. So let’s do that.

Here are 4 ways for you to take action today:

  1. Make an investment in women and girls. Choose from over 30 different projects that support women and girls and give to girls today
  2. Get Educated. Learn about the history of Women’s History Month and then learn about investing in women for poverty alleviation. We like the Girl Effect and UN’s womenwatch
  3. Watch the film Girl Rising made by the inspiring 10×10. Find a screening here.
  4. Spread the word. Support this movement by sharing the importance of investing in girls for poverty alleviation and share our campaign. Tweet using #Give2girls.
You can also help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter, and Pinterest.

My wife told me this week that if we have a daughter one day, she wants her middle name to be Sojourner. “Pretty name,” I thought. “Bit of a mouthful, but on the flip side also not common, which fits the trend of parents finding alternative names for their children. Quite post-modern.” 

Not post-modern at all, actually. She then proceeded to tell me about Sojourner Truth, an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist from the 19th century. Had I ever heard of her before? Nope. Have you?

It occurred to me: despite the fact that I care about women’s rights and that, yes, I would call myself a feminist, my knowledge of women’s history is patchy at best. Surely, if I want to be someone who helps shape the future of gender equality, then mustn’t I know about its past? Good thing, then, that March is Women’s History Month.

Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is a world-wide movement that looks back and celebrates the tenacious achievements of women in our history, with a mind to looking forward and increasing awareness of the great distance that is yet to be traveled to achieve gender equality. To celebrate and support Women’s History Month, we’re going to be rolling out our 3rd annual Give2Girls campaign (details of that to follow soon!). But this year, we want everyone (myself included) to come a little better prepared. We want everyone to educate themselves – a lot, a little –  in women’s history.

Get educated!

Ignorance, I believe, lies at the heart of most prejudice and misunderstanding. Ignorance, therefore, is one of the biggest hindrances to the advancement of gender equality. Here are some websites we love that have some excellent material on women’s history: –

The National Women’s History Museum. This also includes a great online exhibit.

The Smithsonian Museum 

www.womenhistorymonth.gov

The History Channel

Women’s History Month starts tomorrow; learn something today!

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest and keep up to date with all we are doing and the impact you are making.

Only months before being shot in the head and neck by two Taliban gunmen on her way back from school in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, a girl of only 14 years of age, had said, “I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” Malala Yousafzai was not only aware of the threat on her life, but she accepted it bravely and with defiance. Yousafzai was prepared to die for girl’s education.

The incident drew an international outcry. Yousafzai, miraculously still alive, was flown to the U.K., where she spent weeks on end in intensive care, undergoing highly complex brain surgeries and skull reconstruction. 3 days ago, nearly four months after the attempt on her life, Yousafzai, made her first public statement, repeating some not too dissimilar words, “I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.”

Yousafzai’s story is as extraordinary as it is both courageous and inspiring. At its heart is a girl – a teenage girl! – willing to die for her freedom. A freedom that for most of us has already been fought – and won – by those who have preceded us.

7 reasons to invest in girl’s education

We would all concur and understand how education for girls should be a basic freedom. But what we perhaps fail to grasp is that, stemming from this basic freedom, are some incredibly rich benefits for their families, their communities, and society as a whole. So here are 7 great reasons why to invest in girls’ education*:

  1. When 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases on average by 3%.
  2. Countries where women’s share of seats in political bodies is greater than 30% are more inclusive, egalitarian, and democratic.
  3. In many developing countries, the mortality rate of children under the age of 5 is highest among those whose mothers had no education.
  4. Every year of schooling increases a girl’s individual earning power by 10% – 20%, while the return on secondary education is even higher, in the 15% – 20% percent range.
  5. Girls’ education is proven not only to increase wage earners but also productivity for employers, yielding benefits for the community and the wider society. 
  6. When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% into their families.
  7. The impact of investing in girls is intergenerational. A mother with even a few years of formal education is considerably more likely to send her children to school, breaking the intergenerational chain of poverty.

Jolkona’s Project

You can donate to an array of projects via our Jolkona giving platform which further girls’ education in Tanzania, Liberia, Afghanistan, Tibet, and Nepal. Give to one of these projects; help bring freedom and empowerment to girls today! Malala Yousafzai almost gave her life to advance the plight of girls in her country. What can you give?

If you want to know more about Jolkona,  follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

*Statistics taken from the UN’s Clinton Global Initiative.

We all know it, “awesome” is one of the most exhaustively misused words in the English language. A video on the internet of a man falling off a chair goes viral, racking up 1 million hits in a day. This is, apparently, awesome. No, this is not awesome. If something is awesome, it is supposed to inspire awe. It should elicit a reaction of overwhelming admiration. Chances are, if something is truly awesome, you might find yourself speechless, which is why it took me one hour to find the opening line to begin this post. The Give2Girls campaign was awesome.

To celebrate and participate in Women’s History Month, we launched our second Give2Girls campaign, which ran for the full 31 days of March. Our aim was to empower girls and women the world over. We wanted to write our own chapter in the story of women’s history. This year, with the invaluable help of CRAVE and Women@Google, we had a bountiful matching fund of $6,000. Our goal was to raise $12,000. It is with much excitement – and awe – that I can announce that the total raised was:

$25,061

We are so thankful to everyone who participated – everyone. To those who donated, to those who blogged, to those who tweeted and re-tweeted, and to those who gave up their time and energy. A very special thanks must be reserved for Zanoon Nissar and Jessan Hutchison-Quillian for their munificent contribution to the matching funds. The awareness you’ve created and the impact you’ve made has been monumental. So to all of you: way to be feminists!

See the impact for yourself:

Underwrite 2 Day of Training & Counseling in Haiti
Transportation for 2 Midwives in Palestine
Training for 8 women in bio-intensive farming methods in Kenya
Training for 8 Young Woman Trainers in Nepal
Training for 6 Girls in Pakistan
Diarrhea Treatment for 2 Girls in India
2 Girls to attend Day School in China
1 Field Trip in Tanzania
1 Year of Education in Liberia
The Rescue of 6 Girls in Nepal
Transportation to Meet with 8 Weavers in Peru
School Uniforms to 3 Girls in Liberia
School Supplies to 52 Girls in Liberia
School Supplies for 4 School-aged Weavers in Peru
Oral Rehydration Salts to 20 People in Somalia
One Year of Schooling to 2 Girls in Liberia
20 Woman Access to Clothing in Seattle, WA
6 Technology Classes in USA
7 Semesters of Education in Liberia
8 Life Skills Class in USA
Medical Supplies for 15 Weeks in Bangladesh
Lower Level Literacy Education for 26 Women in Afghanistan
Health and Hygiene Training for 3 Women in Kenya
Food for 10 Weeks in Uganda
25 Health Kits in Somalia
Farm Training to 8 Women in Sudan
Clean Water to 8 Families in Guatemala
13 Water Construction Tools in Kenya
A Stipend  for 1 Week in USA
156 Months of Oral Contraceptives in Nepal
22 Week of Health Screening in Bangladesh
5 weeks of care for a mother and her baby in Guatemala
1 Stove to 2 Families in Nepal
16 Solar Lamps in Tanzania
28 Personal Hygiene Kit in Tanzania
1 Month of Transportation in Tanzania
9 Hygiene Kits in Tanzania
6 Bag of Seeds in Nicaragua
10 “Safe Birth” Kits in Palestine
20 Fruit Trees in Tanzania
1-on-1 Care to three Woman in USA
10 Girls 1 Year of Public School Education in Pakistan
Funding for a Skills Workshop for 11 Weavers for 1 Year in Peru
Food for 3 Families of 6 People for 3 Weeks in Somalia
1 Week of a Cook’s Salary in Tanzania
3 Built Stoves in Nepal
Adoption of 3 Mothers in India



 

I’m a man and I’m a feminist. But I will admit that when my wife (my then girlfriend) first told me she was a feminist, I rolled my eyes and thought, “OK here we go!” As a reaction, it wasn’t malicious, neither was it misogynistic. But it was dismissive, and it was certainly deeply ignorant. Ignorance is the operative word here. Because, at the time, my idea of feminism was mostly pre-conceived and – surprise surprise therefore – largely wrong. For me the word feminist only conjured up images of cantankerous women burning bras and hating on men. To be honest, I felt quite threatened by feminism.

But let’s define feminism.

feminism [femuh-niz-uhm] noun 1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

What about feminist?

feminist [femuh-nist] adjective 1. advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

So feminism is the doctrine for equal rights for women, and a feminist is someone who advocates that doctrine. Nothing scary about that.

photo credit: Flickr, Jay Morrison

The thing is, deep in my heart I knew the burning bras and the cantankerous hating parts of my definition were probably an exaggeration, or at least an exiguous minority. So that left me with just the women part. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a sympathizer for gender equality. So what was my problem then? The answer is simple: the fear of otherness. Or to put it more soberly, prejudice. I felt threatened by that which was unknown to me and by that which was different to me. This is the heart of all prejudices.

There was something else curious about this, though. Why did I only envisage women when I thought about feminism? Probably because the only people I saw, read, or heard about in the media who had anything to do with feminism were all women. Feminism was a movement for women run predominantly by women. No wonder, then, feminism seemed so other to me; it was other.

And herein, I believe, lies one of the great barriers to gender equality: there are not enough men advocating feminism. If feminism is about gender equality, then both genders must fight for it. Otherwise how is it equal? Because, men, you can’t say you believe in gender equality if you’re letting women do all the work.

I’m convinced that feminism will continue to be misunderstood, and therefore dismissed by many, unless more men stand up and count themselves as feminists. Because if feminism remains a movement for women by women, then the inescapable laws of prejudice will mean that men will always fear it.

Lessons to be learnt from this (especially for men) :

1. Feminism is simply about gender equality

2. Own up to your prejudices

3. Become a feminist; advocate women’s rights

You can advocate women’s rights in the simplest of ways. Giving to our Give2Girls campaign, which seeks to empower disadvantaged women the world over, is one method. Help us reach our goal of $20,000 donated. Be a feminist here.

 

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Report on Girls’ Education in India

Note from the Editor: this report is written by Daljit Singh, Jolkona Office Manager intern, a graduate in political science from the University of Washington.

photo credit: Flickr, Simon Tucker Photographs

Education is a basic human right that should be exercised fully in all nations, but for many girls in India, attending school is not an option. A girl’s education is an essential starting point in establishing equality everywhere. Despite the Indian Constitution guaranteeing equality before the law and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, India remains a patriarchal society. Male inheritance and property ownership, early marriage, dowry, honor crimes, lack girls’ education, witch hunting, violence against women, and trafficking are all serious issues in the country. There are schools, but most girls do not attend, often because of religious reasons or cultural pressures.

A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau states that three out five girls receives primary education versus three out four boys. There should not be differences in the numbers of such a basic, universal human right. The law of the land makes it clear that both boys and girls have an equal opportunity to attend school from the age of six through fourteen, and that primary education is a fundamental right (Indian Constitution, Art 21). If the constitution does not make it clear enough, there is also an article in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defining that education is a universal human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). Girls are not receiving equal access to primary education in rural India and therefore are not achieving equality.

In this report, I want to focus on rural India and will examine the main reasons why girls have been kept away from receiving a complete primary education.

Limited access to laws and rights

The laws governing education in India are remarkably similar to the laws of western nations.  These laws are accessible to the citizens of India, but many of the citizens are unsure of how to properly live them out and where to go with complaints. Complaints usually fall on deaf ears and the citizen is told that there is equal access but that they are not fully utilizing it. It is a catch-22 situation.

In addition to national laws, there are also international laws that also govern these states. These laws, however, are harder to access for the average citizen. The citizens are only able to access these laws through local NGOs. However, the NGOs are not usually located in rural India. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a clear article outlining that the access to education is a basic human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). These declarations should give more power to the government to provide access to education to all children.

Education is the crux

The impact of education on girls is extraordinary. Education sustains human values. It forms the foundation for learning and critical thinking. Education also provides skills for girls to become more self-reliant and provides them with more opportunities. Thinking into the future, education also provides them with the knowledge to manage health problems. A girl understanding her own body can make the difference between an unwanted pregnancy and an illegal abortion. Having the knowledge beforehand is crucial to saving and protecting lives.

Education does impact human development, as mentioned, along with economic development but the greatest impact is on democracy. Education is the only way a girl can be an informed citizen, leading the way for her to having her voice heard in society.  Education also provides a better overall quality of life. Research has shown the life expectancy rises by as two years for every one percent increase literacy (U.S. Census Bureau 1998). When women have a voice there can be changes made to existing laws changing the future for young girls.

photo credit: Flickr, karathepirate

4 reasons why girls are pulled out of school

The first reason why girls are pulled out of school is because of family responsibilities. Girls provide free labor at home for the family. Home is also where they learn to be a better housewife. Many girls are kept at home because it is a better payoff than going to school. Having the girl attend school is not valuable to the whole family. This problem is lucidly evident in India, even in urban areas, but more prevalent with poorer families. Girls can be found doing everything from farm work to household chores.

The family plays a central role in a girl’s life and shaping her future. Respect is given to elders in all situations and no decision can be made without consulting an elder. This often leads to the practice of arranged marriages. The decision is entirely up to the family and the girl often does not even see her future husband until the day of the wedding. Compared to American norms, individuals growing up in India are much more dependent on their families, especially parents.

The second reason why girls are kept from receiving a primary education is because they are pulled out early to protect family honor. This also can affect the dowry when the girl is married. The boy’s side of the family can raise the dowry if they suspect she has been in school with boys during puberty. The practice of dowry is illegal, but laws are not always implemented. If the dowry cannot be paid, the bride runs the risk of being ruined, or worse, being killed. Honor killings are prevalent among the poor.

The third reason for inequality during primary education is because girls can’t attend school due to inadequate facilities. Schools are unable to provide safe and sanitary facilities for young girls to attend, and with the population increasing at a rapid speed the priority for new facilities is given to boys. In many cases, though, this is exacerbated by basic infrastructural problems: roads, running water, and electricity are often scarce.

The fourth reason girls are kept from school is because of the shortage of female teachers. The problem can be solved, but it starts with first educating girls so they can aspire to be teachers. The government, however, does not see this as a problem and continues to deny that there is gender inequality within the education sector. There have been efforts, as listed earlier, by the government to enroll more girls but this has not been for the nation of India, but rather for international recognition and numbers.

The Solution

All of these contribute to the issue of unequal access to education for girls along with many more issues. These four issues have many underlying issues that contribute to the overall problem. And to solve this issue we can look to three conclusions: NGOs and nonprofits, and the government’s response.

First, NGOs and nonprofits can offer the most helpful solution to this problem because of grassroots movements across rural India. Many of the past efforts have come from reviewing previous reports. NGOs and nonprofits work at a local scale where a difference can made, whereas the government has worked on a larger scale with less success.

Second, the government’s response can help the whole process of providing primary schools for girls. The Indian government has recognized the problem has been slow to act on the issue. As mentioned earlier, education is not a priority for the government right now; rather the government is focused on the economy. Without girls being involved in the future economy, the government is taking a risk and putting the issue off for another generation.

Be a part of the solution. Jolkona is focused on providing mentorship and training to young social entrepreneurs who seek to create solutions that address things like education and women empowerment through a social accelerator program called Jolkona Catalyst. Join us in supporting the next generation of leaders by volunteering or by making a donation to the Jolkona Catalyst program.

Your gift will allow Jolkona to expand the Catalyst program to other parts of the world. This program has had a significant impact on the young leaders we have already invited. You can help us achieve our mission of accelerating positive social change by empowering even more young social entrepreneurs around the world. Let’s turn small acts into big impacts!

 

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