Category Archives: Women and Girls

Join Me on the Bridge – Women for Women International

Right now, as I write this, there is a woman who is being ravaged by the atrocities of war. She is like many women whose lives have been irreparably damaged by war and like countless women around the world she teeters on the brink of having lost everything, having no voice and no hope. Thankfully, Women for Women International works tirelessly for these women.

We are thrilled to have partnered with Women for Women International to spread the word about their annual event celebrating International Women’s Day: Join Me on the Bridge on March 8.

Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. They are changing the world one woman at a time.

They work with socially excluded women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities. Each woman we serve has her own story—some of loved ones murdered, and others of physical and emotional trauma. Most have endured a struggle for survival.

On March 8 women around the world will be gathering on bridges in solidarity to express hope and peace for the future. If you would like to stand in support of women in war ravaged countries, visit JoinMeOnTheBridge.org to find an event near you. And make sure to tweet with the #Bridge12 hashtag.

Photo Copyright: Join Me on the Bridge/ Women for Women International

Sitting Down With Mary Martin Niepold, Founder of the Nyanya Project

One of the wonderful things about working in social good is the people you meet. I have met some amazing people over the past few years who are doing extraordinary things, even some in my own backyard.

Yesterday I joined Mary Martin Niepold for lunch and we chatted about Africa, her non-profit organization, the Nyanya Project, her recent TED talk at Wake Forest University where she is also a lecturer in journalism, the world of social good and ideas about future action campaigns. The Nyanya Project is a partner of Mom Bloggers for Social Good.

After visiting Africa as a volunteer in 2007 Mary was compelled to do something to help the people she had met, visited and worked with. As a grandmother herself she saw that no one was thinking about the grandmothers who carry so much of the burden of Africa as mothers and fathers die from AIDS and leave their children behind to be cared for. The grandmothers are the ones who are left.

The Nyanya Project empowers grandmothers to keep their families together in the face of AIDS devastation. They help African grandmothers form working cooperatives that generate the income necessary to provide healthcare, education and a loving home for their grandchildren.

The Nyanya Project also runs a preschool in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in east Africa. Children are able to get educated before they matriculate to primary school. They also get two meals a day and some of the grandmothers also work in the preschool.

Mary and the Nyanya Project are on the cusp of opening another preschool in Rwanda and are accepting donations to move towards opening their goal. If you would like to donate to the Nyanya Project visit them at www.nyanyaproject.org.

The Plight of Rural Women Discussed at the UN + Tweets from Day 1

Over the next few weeks the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women is holding high level talks about rural women. I tweeted during the opening session and general discussion. I have included some of my tweets along with pertinent tweets of others who shared information from Day 1.

I have a great interest in the plight of rural women as I was able to meet many in Kenya when I traveled to Africa last summer with ONE. In fact, I wrote about how collectives in dairy farming can better improve the lives of women living in rural Kenya. You can read my article, One Cow Can Change an Entire Community, on Care2.com.

If Women Ruled the World: How to Create the World We Want to Live In

Life oftentimes is about ideas and actions coming full circle.

In 2004 I wrote a chapter in If Women Ruled the World: How to Create the World We Want to Live In – Stories, Ideas, and Inspiration for Change. My chapter called “Female Genital Mutilation Would Cease to Exist” was in the section entitled “The Compassion to Embrace the World”. In the book I wrote alongside extraordinary women like Arianna Huffington, Gayle Brandeis, and Lisa Loeb. Being a part of this book is one of the highlights of my life. Little did I know then that I would be deeply immersed in global issues affecting women and girls today; but the groundwork was laid, the framework had already been set.

Today it is my intention to help solve some of the issues facing those in poverty in developing nations and even here in the United States. For me the best way I know how to lend my voice is to utilize the platforms I have created over the years to spread the word about the issues that matter to me and I am excited and humbled that over 600 women have joined me in this effort to help spread the word about the issues they care about.

This, no doubt, is a long journey. No problem as big as access to clean water and sanitation, world hunger or global disparities in maternal health will go away in a year or two. These journeys are for those who are steadfast and patient, but persistent and determined. I hope you  join me on this journey.

The Worldwide Fistula Fund Opens Fistula Center in Niger

Our newest partner, the Worldwide Fistula Fund, celebrated the opening of the Danja Fistula Center, its first freestanding fistula center last Saturday, February 11, 2012. A state-of-the-art fistula hospital in Niger, the Danja Fistula Center will provide free obstetric fistula surgeries, prevention programming and aftercare for women afflicted by this condition.

Founded in 1995, the Worldwide Fistula Fund is a not-for-profit public charity that provides medical treatment for women suffering from obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The goal of the Worldwide Fistula Fund was to always create a freestanding fistula center and use it as a model center that can be replicated,” said Bree Neely, Director of Development for the Worldwide Fistula Fund. “If you can do it in a desolate area you have figured out the challenges and then can move on to create more hospitals in more populated areas.”

With the highest rate of maternal mortality Niger is in desperate need of services that will keep mothers and their newborns alive. “We will be doing prevention outreach within a 50 kilometer catch net,” Neely mentioned.  “We will spread the message to women that if the sun rises two times during their labor then they need to go to the hospital. We will be working on this from a prevention angle.”

The Danja Fistula Center will be open year round save for April through May, the hot season. All services are free for the women. In the first year there will be 400 fistula operations and then will gradually ramp up to 1100 surgeries annually.

In addition to performing fistula operations, the Worldwide Fistula Fund will also create curriculum for a social reintegration program. The program will teach women how to read and will also provide micro-financing opportunities.

“Most women who have fistulas have been left by their families,” said Neely. “They are full of shame, embarrassments and have no resources. It’s really our responsibility to not just sew up their fistula, but there is a broader responsibility to see if they are OK and can build a life for themselves.”