Today is one of my favorite days of the year. It is International Women’s Day, a day around the world to honor women and girls and to look at the progress that has been made and the work that remains to be done. For those who have followed my blog for a while, you know that the rights of women and girls lies near and dear to my heart. I’ve witnessed the inequities and injustice firsthand throughout my travels around the world.
Women and girls are more likely to be poor, unable to go to school, be married young and not have the same opportunities as boys and men. Women still die during childbirth at alarming rates, and are being victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and human trafficking even here in the United States. The list of tragedies goes on and on.
However, the exciting news is this reality is rapidly changing. More women and girls are being empowered with education, training, and access to healthcare, mobile money, micro financing and the internet. The future is looking much brighter for women and girls than it did just a decade ago. So instead of dwelling on the bad things, I want to honor the good things that are happening by highlighting a few of my favorite women and girls I’ve met along the way.
Eugenia, our cook, inside the “kitchen” tent gives us a big smile.
Children in Mosebo Village 42 k away from Bahir Dar in Ethiopia.
Midwives in training
Weaver at work.
Inside we meet a mother and her expectant daughter. They walked two hours on foot to reach the Lie and Wait house. Her mother delivered all 8 children at home with no help.
I couldn’t resist getting my picture taken with these lovely girls.
Me and Mary learning how to make Maasai jewelry that she can sell to earn a profit.
Our group, #Bloggers4Haiti
Lovely smiling sisters.
The abeulas of Cuba
Xiña leads the way with her walking stick ready.
Inside Zulay’s house
Xiña and her sister who lives in Puerto Jimenez and will be our cook for the next day.
The girls in Honduras where I volunteered.
Smiling and hopeful Indian girls within a Delhi slum
I will forever be grateful for the amazing women and girls I’ve met along the way that have inspired me to do more and fight for them.
Want to learn more about International Women’s Day and what is happening? Follow the hashtag #BeBoldForChange or #IWD2017 online.
I learned about Kiva years ago after reading the life-changing book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This book could not have been more timely in my life as after reading it, I immediately began investing in women at Kiva and also using my voice as a blogger and social good advocate to help improve the lives of women and girls.
Kiva is an international nonprofit founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. What I love about Kiva is the brilliant concept of using small micro loans to empower people in the developing world to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. These are normally people who do not have access to traditional bank accounts and Kiva’s micro loans provide the missing link that they need to succeed. Kiva’s loans not only improve but change thousands of lives and what a greater gift than providing opportunity and empowerment, especially to women.
In honor of International Women’s Day this Wednesday, March 8th, Kiva has launched an exciting campaign called “Be Bold for Change, Invest in Her”.The ambitious goal is to crowd fund $3 million in loads for thousands of women from March 1-8. Kiva is offering 10,000 new visitors the chance to lend the equivalent of $25 on Kiva for free as part of the campaign. You can choose which woman you want to support – a woman starting or growing a business, going to school, accessing clean energy or investing in her community.
Individual loans of $25 are collected until that woman’s loan request is fully “crowdfunded.” It doesn’t cost new visitors a thing and they can be part of achieving the campaign’s overall $3 million goal alongside Kiva’s 1.6 million individual lenders. Furthermore, 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans. Kiva covers costs primarily through optional donations, as well as through support from grants and sponsors.
Author’s note: I received products from Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You know how much I love to share amazing gifts that give back and empower women.
“All women, everywhere, have the same hopes: we want to be self-sufficient and create better lives for ourselves and our loved ones. When we invest in women, we invest in a powerful source of global development. – Melinda Gates
Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel to some of the most remote corners of the earth. Through my travels and work as a social good blogger, I’ve witnessed inequality and injustice however I’ve also seen the tremendous opportunity to make the world a better place for all.
Today, millions of people in the developing world continue to live in extreme poverty, and the majority of them are women and girls. Women lack education, healthcare, water and sanitation, and most of all economic opportunities to lift them and their families out of poverty. Despite this seemingly depressing reality, there is an enormous amount of hope and opportunity to improve the lives of women around the world.
In the field of international development, it is a well-known fact that women are powerful agents of change and development. Studies show that women are likely to reinvest 90% of their income in food, education and healthcare for their children and their families. Therefore empowering a woman and unlocking her economic potential can be the most influential force in breaking the cycle of poverty and creating long-term social and economic benefits for their family, their community and the world as a whole. They just need opportunities to do so.
Me and Mary learning how to make Maasai jewelry that she can sell to earn a profit.
Maria, selling her handmade textiles outside a Spanish language school in Xela, Guatemala
In 2010, The Coca-Cola Company launched 5by20, an initiative aimed at lifting 5 million women out of poverty by 2020, one woman at a time. 5by20 eliminates some of the critical barriers keeping women from entering and succeeding in the global marketplace by providing access to skills and business training, financial resources and peer-to-peer mentorship to women entrepreneurs around the world. 5by20 empowers and helps women to successfully grow their business and incomes. Their increase in earnings has a ripple effect throughout the community, bringing new prosperity not only to their families but to the community as a whole. Since 5b20’s launch in 2010, the program has reached more than 1.2 million women across 60 countries.
This inspiring short video, “Chain of Inspiration,” honors the strong women we work with the 5by20 initiative.
Meet the artisans
From farmers to distributors, retailers to recyclers, these amazing women are part of the Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 program. The women artisans create beautiful, one-of-a-kind handmade products such as jewelry, handbags and home decor from upcycled packaging, like Coca-Cola labels and pull tabs which are often discarded as waste, and in turn, elevate themselves, their families, and their communities.
Here is a slideshow of some of the 5by20 women artisans in the Amazon.
“If you want to see things happen at a global level, start at the village level. Give women the tools and education and they will drive the change”. – Melinda Gates
Simply put, women are the driving force of promoting change. They just need the opportunity. The Coca-Cola Company has found an amazing, impactful way to help woman at all stages of the supply chain.
Here is a short video introducing some of the wonderful women who benefit from the Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 program:
The 5by20 artisans are diverting packaging from landfill sites and improving the livelihoods of thousands of women. Here are some of the creative ways the women recreate beautiful products:
The Coletivo Piraquet Handbag (made in Brazil)
The scales of the ancient Pirarucu fish, found in the rivers and lakes of the Amazon, provided inspiration for this elegant bag. Recycled PET scales are hand seen onto mesh to create this delicate beauty.
Bottle Cap Purse (made in Turkey)
Recycled bottle caps make this handy purse even more special.
Some of the products I received in my box from the Coca-Cola Company 5by20 program:
Acacia Creations Soda Can Giraffe (made in Kenya), The Classic Flower (made in Mexicao) and the PCF Narrow Ring-Pull Bracelet (made in the Philippines). All these products are handmade using recycled aluminum cans or ring-pulls.
This International Women’s Day on Wednesday, March 8th– and every day – let’s celebrates women and the extraordinary roles they hold in their communities, families and places of work.
Meet 5by20 Artisans Jocelyn and Marlene – An inspiring success story of how two women living in the Philippines and in Brazil lifted themselves out of poverty and improved their lives with the help of the 5by20 program.