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Is a leader strongest on her own, or as part of a global community? Can you yourself produce the greatest good by sending information and resources one way, or is there much more to be gained through collaboration, and partnership? As you invest in providing training and vital networking to a woman already changing her local community, what can you learn from such an inspiring person?

One of the central themes of the Give2Girls campaign is that investing in women makes an incredible difference, as, on average, they return 90% to their families, children, and community. There are so many projects that positively impact women throughout the world. iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program takes an innovative approach to that idea, by empowering local women, and giving them the tools they need to be local and global leaders.

The mission of iLEAP is to create global transformation through inspiring and engaging social leaders across the world. With a network of non-profits, business, universities, and other associations linking the US, Latin America, Asia, and Africa, their training programs aim to collaborate with leaders, create regional networks, and international partnerships. The programs emphasize hands on learning so participants can work directly with the leaders in their field. They connect people in a range of sectors, ranging from global health, and human rights to education and sustainable agriculture.

The Program

As part of the International Fellowship Program, 10 to 15 Women grassroots leaders from across Asia, Latin America, and Africa are selected from a highly competitive pool to come to Seattle, WA, and attend a rigorous and comprehensive 8-week leadership training program.

  • The training includes courses on topics like communication, technology and management.
  • Helps them to build a network of local businesses and NGOs and other development organizations in their area of interest.
  • Women learn about the interactions between NGOs, business and government agencies.
  • Whilst honing their skills through the program, the women also have the opportunity to become involved in Seattle’s community, and make personal connections.
  • They live with a home-stay family, attend events, and are sponsored by local organizations that work in the same area of interest so they can exchange ideas.

Why the program is important

Empowering women as leaders is vital to the UN Millennium Development goals of promoting gender equality, and encouraging global partnerships. Women bear the brunt of global poverty, due to gaps in income and education, as well as violence, and maternal mortality. Women leaders in developing countries are already taking steps to address these issues and lead the improvement in their communities. iLEAP’s fellowship provides these women with more in depth training and an international network of partners and mentors, so that they can continue their work more effectively, and with renewed inspiration.

The Give2Girls campaign is all about investing in girls and women, to create a better world tomorrow, and iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program is an incredible opportunity for determined and talented women grassroots leaders to network internationally, increase the impact of their work in their own communities, and become global citizens. Through amazing donations, Give2Girls has been fully funded, but a donation will still make an incredible difference. $100 provides the weekly stipend for a Fellow to stay in Seattle, and participate in the program. As a result, each graduate leaves with practical skills, and a global community of support. In turn, they contribute to sustainable social change.

You can also be a part of the Give2Girls movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest

 

One of the first amazing science facts I learned as a child, was that approximately 70% of the human body is water. Of course, at that age, I thought about water in a much more simplistic way, something to drink when I was thirsty, or play in when I was hot. So, thinking about it as something that is both a universal need, and a commonality among all people never really occurred to me. In the face of pollution, and unequal distribution, finding a space to truly appreciate what water means, sometimes requires remembering that it is in the core of our beings. Tomorrow is UN World Water day, part of the Year of Water Cooperation, and an opportunity to make a difference, and donate to a project, like providing clean water in Kenya.

The Importance of Water Cooperation

We are more than just dependent on water for survival; water is who we are, and something that each and every one of us shares. From this perspective, water cooperation only makes sense. The most basic of human needs, the sustainability of our environment, and economic development, even gender equality is centered on water. For many who do not have quick access to water, the tasks of travelling long distances to collect water for daily use – often contaminated by livestock, and carrying disease, falls to the women of the community, limiting their participation in activities that generate income.

As the world’s population grows, so does the demand on water.

  • Millions of people already do not have access to clean water and sanitation
  • The majority of the fresh water resources are strained by irrigation and agricultural needs of providing food for the growing population.
  • The world’s diet is shifting towards products like starch and meat that require significantly more water to produce.
  • 90% of wastewater in the world pollutes freshwater, and productive cultural regions.

Despite all of these concerns, Water can be a tool to encourage international peace, and positive global development.

  • Almost half of the terrestrial surface of the earth is covered by river basins that cross political boundaries.
  • Groundwater, another important source of freshwater, also needs to be managed by regional cooperation.
  • Hundreds of international agreements have been made on the basis of water agreements.
  • 90 of these manage shared water in Africa alone.
  • Cooperation built around water allows for more efficient and sustainable use, as well as an easier flow of information, and better living conditions

Find out more about water cooperation from UN’s World Water Day

What can you do today?

In honor of both the UN World Water Day, as well as the current Give2Girls campaign, Jolkona supports MADRE’s project of providing clean water in Kenya. This works with indigenous communities in Kenya to provide clean water collection points, water tanks near villages and schools, as well as livestock watering troughs, which reduces contamination and erosion. The impacts of clean water contribute to the UN Millennium Development Goals, of reducing diseases like Malaria, and gender inequality, and increasing environmental sustainability.

This project is especially important to women in Kenya, considering the number of other human rights issues they face. With the help of easily accessible clean water, women will have the opportunity to participate in activities that would generate income and continue to improve their quality of life. In addition, the project would contribute to invigorating the community by consulting members through the implementation process, providing training in maintaining the water systems, as well as health and hygiene.

In recognition of tomorrow’s UN World Water Day, donate as little as $45 to the clean water project in Kenya. This project is also part of the Give2Girls campaign,  as clean water is vital to empowering women.  Even though Give2Girls has been fully funded, through amazing donations, you will still make a difference and save lives. You will be contributing not only to the health of a community, but also to a trend of international cooperation in pursuit of clean water.

Find out how you can get more involved in the UN World Water Day. 

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.

 

We interviewed Awamaki, a partner that focuses helping women in Peru become economically sustainable through education and traditional crafts, as part of the Give2Girls campaign. They hope to educate the older girls of their weaving cooperatives to become future leaders through workshops that focus on skills like computer use, and to launch a Girls Leadership Program for 2014.

What’s the story behind Awamaki?

Awamaki was formed in early 2009, to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Seattle native, Kennedy Leavens and Peru native, Miguel Galdo, worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the Patacancha weaving cooperative for two years. When that organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. Awamaki grew rapidly its first few years. We started a health project (now independent), ran an afterschool program, and tried on a number of other hats as well. Awamaki now concentrates its work in economic empowerment, education, skills development, and sustainable community tourism.

How did you become connected with Jolkona?

I had heard of Jolkona through the UW Evans School Public Affairs, so when Nadia emailed me asking for information, I offered to come down to the office. Face-to-face meetings are so rare when you work internationally and your funders, partners and donors are spread out all over the globe.

Can you tell us more about your project’s background and why it started?

Our women’s cooperative project started in the hands of another organization, CATCCO, nearly 10 years ago. The project’s founders saw that the Quechua weaving tradition was being lost, so they offered to buy weavings from high school aged girls in order to encourage them to continue to weave and also give them support for their studies. Since then, our focus has shifted from mostly textile tradition revitalization — though that is still an important aim — to economic development through women’s access to economic opportunities and income. We have created a number of other projects towards that aim, including knitting, sewing and spinning cooperatives, as well as a homestay family association and a Spanish teachers cooperative to work with the many volunteers and travelers that come through the town where we are based. All our projects come from a need identified by the community and an opportunity identified by our international volunteers and staff, who have the ideas and expertise necessary to connect marginalized community members with the opportunities afforded by the international tourism markets.

What kind of lasting change does the project hope to engender?

We aim to give women the skills and market access they need to directly improve their incomes. We believe that income in the hands of women is the most effective way to lift rural families and communities out of poverty. We hope to create cooperatives that are models of self-sufficiency and financial sustainability, allowing women to be empowered agents of change, investing in the health, education and well being of their families and their communities.

We also aim to create cooperative business models that respect and revitalize local traditions and ways of life.

 So say I make a contribution to the project, can you explain a little further the impact that is achieved?

Awamaki’s projects allow the women we work with to access economic opportunities and earn a significant income that they then invest in their families and communities.

Our donors and supporters play a crucial role in our work. As a successful social enterprise, 78% of our funding comes from earned program income–sales of fair trade products, income from our sustainable tourism program, and volunteer and service travel program donations. This income covers our core operating expenses entirely.

Since we are devoted to working with the most marginalized women and communities in the area, however, the success of our programs–and the improved income and well-being of our women–rests on the extensive administrative support, skills trainings and capacity-building workshops we provide to the 150 women and families with whom we work. We leverage 100% of donations to provide this support and to fund program start-up and expansion, such as organizing and training new cooperatives that become self-sustaining after our initial investment

 We love stories at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite impact story you can share?

Graciela is 17. She lives in the remote high Andean community of Patacancha. When she was 13, she became pregnant. Girls don’t usually finish school in Patacancha; girls who are mothers definitely don’t finish school. Graciela’s parents were upset by her early pregnancy, but they enrolled her in Awamaki’s weaving cooperative program, then just starting. Income from the Awamaki project allowed her to support the child while she and the child’s father — only barely older than Graciela — finished school. Last year, he graduated from high school, and they moved into a one-room adobe home that they built near her parent’s home. Graciela continues to support her young family with income from the Awamaki project. Though only 17, she is one of our most skilled weavers. Her son, Rolando, is a healthy, energetic four-year-old.

In a nutshell, why should someone give to this project?

Donations are the crucial link between the enterprise and the social part of what we do. We multiply your donation many times over by creating self-sustaining solutions to poverty.

Double your impact through the Give2Girls campaign, and donate to Awamaki today.

You can also be a part of the Give2Girls movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest.

 

MADRE is a partner with many projects involved in the Give2Girls Campaign. Given the many essential services they provide for women internationally, as well as the many opportunities for donation, we wanted to feature their background and work. We interviewed them about their past work, and what they hope to accomplish.

What’s the story behind MADRE?

Almost thirty years ago, MADRE was created to meet the immediate needs of women and address the underlying causes of the crises they face. In 1983, at the height of a war in Nicaragua, women there extended an invitation to a small group of women in the United States to witness and discuss the atrocities committed by the U.S. funded, contra militia. What they saw horrified and angered them. They were shown entire communities – day care centers, schools, and hospitals – destroyed by bombs. Upon their return to the United States, the women, led by Founding Director Kathy Engel, began MADRE to aid the women and children of Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast. Grounded in the concrete work of collecting humanitarian aid for Nicaragua, MADRE offered ways for people to join together to demand alternatives to destructive policies, at home and abroad.

Although created to address this specific crisis, the leaders of MADRE recognized the necessity of focusing on the universality of women’s roles and oppression as a key to building lasting partnerships between women from different communities. To this day, they continue their commitment to international women’s rights and welfare, and have provided 30 million dollars-worth of material support to their sister organizations worldwide.

Today, MADRE works in partnership with grassroots women’s groups in Afghanistan, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Nicaragua, Palestine, Peru and Sudan to advance women’s human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and build long-term solutions to the crises women face. They support three overarching program areas: Peace Building; Women’s Health/Combating Violence against Women; and Economic and Environmental Justice. They 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 all people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives.

So how did you become connected with Jolkona?

We came across Jolkona in a search for additional fundraising opportunities for our programs with women and families worldwide, and jumped at the chance to participate. Our partnership began in 2009. Now, we have eight active projects on Jolkona.

One of your projects is providing health kits to women and children in Gaza. Can you tell us a bit more about the project and how it’s going currently?

After the recent escalation of violence in Gaza, MADRE and our local Palestinian partner organization responded by bringing urgent medical care to injured civilians, particularly women and children. Thanks to donor support, MADRE was able to send two disbursements of funds to the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. In Gaza, PMRS operates four clinics, four mobile clinics, two physiotherapy centers, one assistive device center and individual relief services. During the recent escalation of violence in Gaza, all PMRS centers and teams were equipped to offer emergency health services and disburse medication. Their local positioning and knowhow allowed them to deliver emergency care to vulnerable neighborhoods in Gaza where the need is greatest. PMRS also held psychosocial support sessions for children traumatized by the recent violence. Sessions were held in schools and activities include therapeutic games and coloring.

What kind of lasting change does the project hope to engender?

The support of donors provides emergency medicines and supplies during this crisis, which has saved lives. Providing care now will better equip Palestinians to weather the crisis and rebuild their communities in the future.

To create lasting peace in the region, we need to demand an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the occupation of Palestinian land, and safety from armed attacks for all people in the region. We’re committed to pushing the Obama administration for a human rights-based policy in the Middle East. But in times of crisis, the most urgent thing is to heal people’s suffering.

So say I give $10 to the project, can you explain a little further the impact that is achieved? 

During times of violence, your gift will bring urgent care to wounded and traumatized children and families in Gaza, who have no other source of help. Continued support of this project will better equip Palestinians to effectively manage crises as they arise and rebuild their communities in the future.

We love stories at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite impact story you can share?

In the wake of the most recent period of violence between Israel and Palestine, MADRE received a letter from our sister organization, K’inal Antsetik A.C. (Land of Women), in Chiapas, Mexico. They heard about our work in Gaza and decided to help in whatever way they could. Their letter expressed solidarity with women and their families affected by violence in Gaza. Remembering the support they had previously received from MADRE, the women of K’inal Antsetik A.C. offered words of kindness as well as money they had personally collected to aid us in our work. This embodies the spirit of MADRE – grassroots organizations from around the world coming together to ensure that that all women receive the resources they need to thrive in the most trying of circumstances.

In a nutshell, why should someone give to this project?

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. Whether you’re helping build a clinic, feed a child or deliver emergency aid after a disaster, you can feel confident that your gift will be used in a smart, efficient way. At MADRE, a full 88 cents of every dollar you give go towards our lifesaving programs with women and families.

Now is your chance to double your impact through the Give2Girls Campaign, and donate to MADRE’s project in Palestine.

You can also be a part of the Give2Girls movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), 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.

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