At last week’s Social Good Summit, many of the speakers stressed the importance of helping women and girls become more educated, healthier, and better protected. Usually the primary caregivers for the next generation, women have great power in educating and nurturing the world’s children. But they are the most at risk as these statistics from the Half the Sky Movement highlight:
1. Women and girls account for 80% of the people trafficked across international borders each year, most often for sexual exploitation.
2. In Somaliland a woman faces a 1-in-12 chance of dying during childbirth as opposed to a 1 in 4,800 chance for women in the U.S.
3. Women between the ages of 15 and 45 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.
Below are six projects focused on the most vulnerable in our global community: women and girls.
1. Half the Sky
The Half the Sky Movement is cutting across platforms to ignite change needed to put an end to the oppression of women and girls worldwide. Inspired by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof (@nickkristof) and Sheryl WuDunn’s book of the same name, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide brings together videos, websites, games, blogs and other educational tools to raise awareness of women’s issues – namely Economic Empowerment, Education, Forced Prostitution, Gender-Based Violence, Maternal Mortality and Sex Trafficking – and to further provide concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women. Just aired on October 1 and 2 on PBS was a two part documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression intoOpportunity for Women Worldwide which you can view online or purchase on Amazon or Netflix.
Working with Asi Burak (@aburak), Co-President of Games for Change, the Half The Sky team is creating a gaming concept, targeting women in the developing world. Three mobile games for feature phones teach women important entrepreneurial, health and business skills by playing casual games. Games for Change is also working with the award-winning developer Frima Studio to produce an adventure game on Half The Sky Movement: The Game on Facebook set to launch November 13, 2012. The experience aims to engage millions of players and transform compelling gameplay into real-world actions and micro-donations.
Building on President Obama’s challenge at the UN General Assembly in September 2011, the United States will be working with various country partners in a new international effort – the Equal Futures Partnership – to break down barriers to women’s political participation and economic empowerment. The goal of the Equal Futures Partnership is for each member country to expand opportunities for women and girls to fully participate in public life, and to drive more inclusive economic growth.
As part of these efforts, the White House Council on Women and Girls is launching an app challenge: create an app that promotes civic education and/or inspires girls to serve as leaders in our democracy. Notable apps will be highlighted on the White House website and blog.
The US Agency for International Development, Qtel Group, the Australian Agency for International Development, and the GSMA Development Fund have announced the launch of the GSMA mWomen Design Challenge: Redefining the User Experience. The challenge calls on the global digital design community to develop products that will make the smartphone user experience more intuitive, particularly for women in developing countries who, because of lack of opportunity, struggle with technical literacy.
GSMA research shows women to be 21% less likely than men to own a mobile phone in low- to middle-income countries. The resulting mobile phone gender gap represents as many as 300 million women in the developing world who do not have access to this potentially life-enhancing tool. A key step towards closing the mobile phone gender gap, according to the study, is to consider the user experience of resource-poor women as being central to mobile device design. About 22% of women surveyed in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea and Uganda who do not use mobile phones say it is because they do not know how to use the phones. To serve these women, mobile tools must be designed with simpler interfaces that overcome reading and technical literacy barriers.
4. Girl Up
Girl Up is an innovative campaign of the United Nations Foundation that is is now 252,000 girls strong. The campaign gives American girls the opportunity to become global leaders by channeling their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for United Nations programs, which help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls.
ONE, the global anti-poverty group cofounded by Bono, is launching an initiative to drive awareness and action in support of programs that are helping women and girls lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty.
6. We Advance
Co-founded by actor and activist Maria Bello, We Advance is a movement focused on the health, safety and well-being of women in Haiti. They work in some of the poorest slums in all of the western hemisphere – Wharf Jeremy and Cité Soleil – where security issues deter the work of most international NGOs. We Advance University is a web and mobile site dedicated to connecting local women’s groups in remote areas to each other, as well as to non-profit support. The site is a directory in which women can easily find services nearby or simply ask for help. For example, a rape victim can find that “two miles away the Red Cross is doing rape tests and 10 miles away there is a lawyer who can file rape-charge papers,” with just the click of a button. The site is also about education and entertainment.