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Message from Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona CEO, to Give to Girls 2014 donors:

Thank you so much for joining us to Give to Girls! Your contributions helped us raise more than $2,600 in March for Jolkona partners supporting maternal health, education and empowerment for women and girls locally and globally.Nadia

With your donations ranging from $10 to $1,000, our collective giving is enough to fund English and computer classes for eight girls in Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation), agriculture training and supplies for six women farmers in Sudan (MADRE), school supplies for five girls in Liberia (More Than Me Foundation), job skills classes for two homeless women in Seattle (Jubilee Women’s Center), and more.

Our partner organizations will be sending out impact reports for every donation in the coming months. You can also continue supporting these kinds of projects by making a meaningful contribution to Jolkona’s Women & Girls partners throughout the year.

If your company has a matching donation program, you have an opportunity to double your impact. Let us know if we can assist you in submitting the information to your employer this month.

Thank you for investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today!

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Like many first-time moms, when I went into labor last year, I was really scared about how painful the delivery would be and whether anything would go wrong with me or my baby girl. And even now, though Aleena is very healthy, I often double-check to make sure she’s still breathing when she’s asleep.

These fears are real to me, but they seem so trivial compared to the fears that mothers in developing countries face: Will they survive childbirth? Will their babies survive? Will they be able to give them clean water and healthy food? What about medicine if they get sick? Can they afford to send them to school? All of them, or just the boys?

Medical complications from pregnancy is one of the leading causes of death for women around the world. Even in India, which has made great strides in the past generation, the maternal mortality rate is 10 times higher than in the United States, according to the World Health Organization – even worse than in neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal. But there’s hope: When I visited a Kolkata slum a few years ago, I met with a grateful woman and baby who had received proper prenatal care and a safe delivery through Calcutta Kids. Thanks to the funding this nonprofit gets from our Jolkona donors and other supporters, this woman and thousands of others in her community no longer live in fear of dying in childbirth, or that their children won’t live past their fifth birthdays.

Some people argue that supporting efforts to improve maternal and child healthcare in slums and developing countries only exacerbates overpopulation. But, as Melinda Gates noted in the Gates Foundation’s annual letter, the data actually show that when more children survive, women opt to have fewer babies – slowing population growth and improving education and empowerment opportunities per family.

 In addition to health issues, the world’s women and girls continue to lag behind in education and employment. Improving these measures is a win-win-win for the women, their families and their communities. Researchers have confirmed that when women and girls earn money, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families (compared to only 30-40 percent for men) – a ripple effect that can break the cycle of poverty in a single generation.  

Last Day to Give to Girls

These stories and statistics inspire me during Jolkona’s annual Give to Girls campaign, combined with March as Women’s History Month. This year, we focused on crowdfunding in three categories where our growing pool of small donations can have the greatest collective impact: maternal health, education, and empowerment. The 10 projects we chose will each provide proofs for every donation, so that even small donors feel confident that they can make a difference.

It always amazes me how little it costs to make a life-changing difference for young woman. For just $30, we can train a woman farmer in Sudan. For $60, we can educate a girl in Afghanistan for one year. For $160, we can provide prenatal care to a mother in Guatemala.

All it takes is a small donation to change lives – starting with one girl, her family, her village, and the world. We need to invest in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today.

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Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign revolves around the idea that the world’s women — over half the global population — are a significant untapped resource. Women represent 70 percent of the world’s poor, disproportionately suffering in times of crisis: natural disasters, economic downturns, wars. On the other hand, as more women gain equality in the workforce, the faster a country’s economy will recover and grow.

This doesn’t only apply to the developing world; America’s GDP would jump by 9 percent if we had equal pay. Empowering women, along with giving them access to better healthcare and education, is the key to local and global development.

You can help three Jolkona partners empower women:

Give Life and Tech Skills to Homeless Women in the U.S.

Many homeless women in the U.S. can’t get back on their feet because they lack the skills needed to find jobs in today’s economy. Jolkona’s partner the Jubilee Women’s Center, works to help Seattle women transition out of extreme poverty, with a comprehensive life and tech skills program including classes in Microsoft Office, interview and job retention practices.

Support Rape Survivors in Haiti Displacement Camp

Four years after Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake, more than 100,000 people are still living in tent camps — unstable conditions that have made women even more vulnerable to sexual violence. Jolkona’s partner MADRE provides peer-counseling groups to help rape survivors empower each other and heal together, and works with local organizations to build effective community anti-violence strategies.

Support Women Farmers in Sudan

Women in Sudan grow 80 percent of the food crops, yet are excluded from government farm aid programs. The country’s farmers also struggle to survive the ongoing war, environmental degradation from unsustainable practices, and droughts and floods from climate change. Jolkona’s partner MADRE provides women farmers with tools, seeds, and ongoing training — enabling them to feed their families and achieve financial independence.

With the right set of tools, any woman can become empowered, and empowered women are one of the greatest potential forces for global change. Give to Girls today!

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It’s hard to believe that March is already here again, but at Jolkona we’re certainly excited about International Women’s Day on March 8. This year will be our 4th annual Give2Girls campaign, raising money to improve the lives of women and girls all over the world during Women’s History Month.

As UN Women states, “Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

Our preparations include reviewing the past three campaigns, celebrating we have collectively accomplished with the $40,000 raised, and all that is still left to do as we work to build greater gender equality and improving health, education and opportunity for women and girls locally and globally:

Jolkona’s Give2Girls 2013 raised over $5,000 through our generous donors and a partnership with the Seattle International Foundation. Every dollar went to saving lives and improving education, health and sanitation for women and girls in more than a dozen countries, from the United States to Iraq to Nepal. Through out last year’s campaign, we also worked to bring awareness to many issues that impact women’s equality, such as access to clean water and higher education.

Our Give2Girls 2012 raised $25,000, with a big boost from Women at Google and our champions Zanoon Nissar and Jessan Hutchison-Quillian. And the inaugural Give2Girls campaign raised $10,000!

While looking forward to what we can accomplish this year, you can watch a live commemoration of the event on March 7th here, and stay tuned for our official campaign information next week. You can also get started on browsing our projects related to women and girls.

We’re excited and grateful to spend a fourth Women’s History Month working with you to help improve the lives of women and girls. Thank you for your support!

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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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Jolkona Staff - 2010

Jolkona’s Fearless Females – 2010

In Jolkona’s first five years, we’ve collected more than $700,000 for nonprofit partners locally and globally. More than $40,000 has come just through Give2Girls, a campaign we run every March to specifically support causes for women and girls. And we’ve raised more than $1,200 so far this month through our Give Together featured cause of Women & Girls, supporting projects in Seattle, Nepal and Sudan.

Our work for women and girls is much bigger than the occasional fundraising theme, however. One way or another, most of our partners empower women and girls. Some literally save lives; others strive to make those lives worth living. As Jolkona blogger Madison Abshire noted at the beginning of this month: “The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change… 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.”

We’ve had dozens of interesting posts here on the Jolkona Blog about how donors and volunteers can make a big difference for the world’s women and girls. Three blasts from the past:

Double Your Dollars

This month, we have matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation to amplify donations to Jolkona partner projects related to women and girls. This offer will double the first $1,500 given to our Give Together and Give Direct projects for women/girls. Which one inspires you to give? 

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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.

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Our second Partner Spotlight for October’s Give Together for Women and Girls is MADRE, an organization that works with local, regional and international women’s groups to address issues like human rights, education, and economic development. We asked them some questions to help you 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!

What’s your mission? What inspires your organization?

MADRE works to advance women’s human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to the crises women face. We work towards a world in which all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights, in which resources are shared equitably and sustainably, in which women participate effectively in all aspects of society, and in which people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives. MADRE’s vision is enacted with an understanding of the inter-relationships between the various issues we address and by a commitment to working in partnership with women at the local, regional and international levels who share our goals.

MADRE photoWhat’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

We are supporting women farmers in eastern Sudan by helping provide the seeds, tools, and training they need to feed their families and generate income for their communities.

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

If Jolkona members raise $250, we’ll be able to cover all expenses for two women to attend two days of training, where they will learn new skills and techniques for a successful harvest. They will be able to share what they learn with other women when they returns home to their villages. In addition, we can buy 50 lbs. of seeds, enough for 10 women to sow sorghum, sesame and millet for one season.

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

When you give to MADRE, you can be sure you’re making a concrete difference in the life of a woman who is struggling to build a better future for herself and her family. By supporting women farmers in Sudan, you’ll help provide them with the seeds, tools and trainings they need to feed and support their families for the long haul.

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

Since Zeina’s participation in the Women Farmers Union, she’s been able to grow the food her family needs to survive. Income generated from surplus crops allowed Zeina to send her daughter to school. Her daughter is now attending a nearby university. She is the first person in Zeina’s family to go to college.

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

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

This month, our Give Together projects focus on supporting and empowering women and girls. Our first partner, the Jubilee Women’s Center, provides essential services like affordable housing and job training to homeless women in the Seattle area, to help them transition out of poverty. Follow them on Twitter: @JubileeSeattle.

We have up to $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for October’s Give Together campaign for Women & Girls. So join Give Together and your gift will be doubled this month!

Jubilee photo2What’s your mission? What inspires your organization?

Jubilee Women’s Center’s mission is to support women experiencing poverty to build stable and fulfilling futures, one extraordinary woman at a time. We are inspired by the women we serve who, although they have been through terrible circumstances, are all – we believe – extraordinary. Jubilee works to help them overcome their circumstances and build resiliency for a healthier, more secure life ahead.

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

Recently, Jubilee has expanded the capabilities of our Learning & Opportunity Center so we can now serve women in the community in addition to our residents here. We can now offer computer and life skills classes for up to 22 women at a time! Classes range from Introduction to Computers to Conflict Resolution to Resume Writing. All of these skills can give women the skills they need to have a more secure future.

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

If Give Together members can raise $250, Jubilee can offer a four-class series to 12 women on career exploration, resume writing, job interview skills and job searching. With these skills, women can begin to work toward a career that will pay them a living wage and insure their independence.

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

Jubilee relies on the support of our community to help women transform their lives. Led by the guiding principle that all women are to be treated with respect and dignity, Jubilee’s holistic programs, housing and support services help women make permanent life changes. We do this by providing safe, affordable and supportive community housing and educational resources to empower each woman to become financially independently, regardless of her circumstances.

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

There are so many stories of how Jubilee has changed women’s lives! The first one that comes to mind is a resident who drained her savings and retirement fund when she was treated for breast cancer. When it came back, she found herself homeless. She found Jubilee as she was losing her apartment, and had time and space to go through treatment and get healthy. She took advantage of the many resources at Jubilee and is in college, working to earn a degree in accounting. There are so many stories like this!

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

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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.

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