Category Archives: Education

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Coca-Cola’s 5by20 Initiative

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Coca-Cola’s 5by20 Initiative

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In honor of International Women’s Day I received a box of beautiful handmade products from Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program to introduce me to a few of their artisans. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. A notecard in the box read:

“Hello, by opening this gift, you’re opening a world of possibility for women across the world.”

 

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These are a few of the gorgeous handmade items from the 5by20 collection

March 8th is International Women’s Day, and I’m happy to celebrate by supporting Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs around the world by 2020.  #5by20 provides access to skills training, financial resources, and mentorship to women worldwide to help them rise out of poverty. Having witnessed first hand the type of impact that programs like 5by20 can have on a community I am excited to share what Coca-Cola is doing to help improve the lives of millions of women around the world. When you invest in women, through education and economic empowerment, the entire community benefits. Studies show that women reinvest 90% of their income back into their home, towards food, education for their children, and healthcare for their families.

We each have purchasing power as consumers, and as a woman, I love to support companies that exhibit corporate social responsibility and to buy from female artisans where I know that my purchase actually makes a positive impact in someone else’s life.  I love that the 5by20 program focuses significantly on female artisans as I have seen the positive impact similar programs in South Africa, Ethiopia, and most recently Haiti have had on the women and their families. The women I met all took great pride in their handcrafted products, and in being given a “hand-up” in the opportunity to develop their business in a sustainable way, rather than a one-time handout of charity. The beautiful handmade product samples that I received from the 5by20 artisans came from the countries of Brazil, Turkey, Kenya, Mexico, and the Philippines. Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program began in 2010 and has already reached 1.2 million women across 60 countries.

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Jocelyn Pacrin, pictured above, is a mother of four, just like me. She is also supporting her children on her own while living in a squatter’s area of Manila in the Philippines. Despite facing challenges after leaving an abusive husband Jocelyn is optimistic for her family’s future. Due to the training that she received from a Coca-Cola 5by20 local partner organization, the Philippine Community Fund, she is able to build a better future for herself and her children. Jocelyn was taught how to make jewelry, handbags, and other accessories using recycled beverage packaging. The women involved in the program work together, providing a built in network and inspiring support group for each other. The income that Jocelyn now earns will help her to provide education for her children and improve their living situation as her business grows.  Mother’s around the world share the common desire to provide for their children and to see them thrive. The 5by20 initiative addresses the most common barriers that women face when entering the marketplace. By giving women like Jocelyn access to training courses, financial services and mentorship Coca-Cola’s 5by20 helps them gain the tools they need to succeed. The ripple effect of their success allows mothers to provide their children with the proper nutrition and education that they need to get ahead in life as well. 

I received a PCF Narrow Ring-Pull bracelet made from recycled aluminum can pull tabs from the Philippines like the ones that Jocelyn now produces.

I received a PCF Narrow Ring-Pull bracelet made from recycled aluminum can pull tabs from the Philippines like the ones that Jocelyn now produces.

 

Coca-Cola is one of the most widely recognized brands in the world with sales in over 200 countries. It is a brand name that people even in the most remote communities of the globe are familiar with, and trust. Coca-Cola is leveraging that global reach and taking corporate social responsibility to make the world a better place by establishing clean water initiatives, aiding with health care supply chain and distribution partnerships, and economic empowerment initiatives for women around the globe. The 5by20 artisans are repurposing and diverting discarded packaging from landfill sites while improving their lives. By 2020 the ripple effect of 5 million women being impacted by Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative will have helped to shape not only their lives, and those of their children, but also the communities in which they live.

Check out the touching video below to meet a few of the artisans as they share their hopes and dreams for the future:

To purchase any of the beautiful handmade items created by 5by20 artisans like the gorgeous Coletivo Piroquet Handbag below made from recycled PET scales in Brazil visit the 5by20 store.

 

Coletivo Piroquet Handbag made in Brazil

Coletivo Piroquet Handbag made in Brazil

Rhode Island March Of Dimes March For Babies

Rhode Island March Of Dimes March For Babies
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Photo Credit: March of Dimes

Giving birth is a miraculous moment for mothers, yet it can also be one of the most terrifying and treacherous for both mother and child.  I’ll never forget the excitement of the birth of my brother’s first child, and then the breath holding trepidation while he stayed at the hospital in the NICU for the following week having being born prematurely. Premature babies can have serious health problems at birth and later into life, and about 1 in 10 babies in the US are born prematurely.  The World Health Organization lists preterm birth complications as the number 1 cause of death in children under the age of five. You might be shocked to learn that the United States of America is ranked 54th on Born Too Soon the list of Estimated National Rates of Preterm Birth put out by The March of Dimes.  Our country has one of the worst newborn mortality rates of any of the industrialized nations and a higher pre-term birth rate than countries like Sierra Leone, Libya or Cambodia.

The March of Dimes , an organization that has been around for nearly 80 years, is set to change that. I was struck by how little I knew about all of the amazing programs that it supports both here in the US and abroad. Over the past couple of years I have traveled to Ethiopia and South Africa on reporting trips on maternal and newborn health, and written for a number of global non-profits on related issues, My focus on maternal, newborn and child health has been primarily focused on developing countries. As a mother of four children and daughter of a Polio survivor I also advocate for global vaccines with the United Nations Shot@Life campaign, one of the major goals of which is global Polio eradication.  I was fascinated to find out that the March of Dimes had led the fight against Polio when it was founded by FDR in 1938 with the purpose of Polio eradication in the US. The Polio vaccine was developed with funding by the March of Dimes and now there are currently only two countries left in the world that still have Polio, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Polio virus was successfully eradicated in the US in 1979 thanks in large part to the March of Dimes campaign.

Once that goal was accomplished the robust infrastructure of the March of Dimes was shifted to tackle birth defects, and in the mid 1980s to Community, Advocacy, Research, Education and Support services around premature birth. (the birth of an infant before 37 weeks of pregnancy). If not for the research, programs and services provided by the March of Dimes many babies would never make it past that critical first 24 hour window after birth. Families would be deprived of the guiding services and support that helps them through a frightening time period while their newborn is fighting for their little life.

Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® is a comprehensive initiative by the March of Dimes to prevent preventable preterm birth, with a focus on reducing elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait involves an education and awareness campaign, hospital quality improvement and community intervention programs. These strategies are focused on interventions and activities that have the potential to make an immediate, substantial and measurable impact on preterm birth. – www.marchofdimes.org

The Share Your Story website provides a lifeline to NICU families in an online community, which is an extension of the amazing support services provided by the March of Dimes in the NICU itself. I was able to take a tour of the Women & Infants Hospital NICU in Rhode Island where the March of Dimes is saving newborn lives every day. The 6-year-old 50,000 sq. foot wing here in Rhode Island can treat 82 babies at a time, and in the corner of the wing an entire center for family support provides programs, food, and a fun-filled space for siblings to play.

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Photo Credit: March of Dimes

Research as to what contributes to premature birth has identified certain risk factors such as multiples, previous preterm births, little or no prenatal care, being overweight or underweight during pregnancy, smoking, drinking alcohol, and drug use, to name a few.  Demographics can also play a role, if you are under 17 or over 35 these are risk factors, and here in the US researchers are working hard to find out why various populations have a higher preterm birth rate than others. Continued research also seeks to answer the question of why preterm birth can also sometimes occur in a healthy mother with none of the predisposing factors, like my sister-in-law so many years ago. My nephew is now a thriving healthy twenty year old, and it is easy to forget those first touch and go weeks of his life when he had been born too soon.

It is estimated that 75% of preterm births could be prevented with proper intervention. The research, education, and advocacy that the March of Dimes provides could save the state of Rhode Island up to $57 million dollars by preventing premature birth in our state, but the March of Dimes could use your help to achieve that ultimate goal. Families and premature babies need your help as well.

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Photo Credit: March of Dimes

Join The community and the March of Dimes for a fun family day on Saturday April 30th at 9am in Bristol, RI and March for Babies with the March of Dimes.

International Women’s Day #IWD2016 And The #PovertyIsSexist Report

International Women’s Day #IWD2016 And The #PovertyIsSexist Report

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International Women’s Day 2016

In honor of International Women’s Day today ONE has released the #PovertyIsSexist Report  #PovertyIsSexist because there is no where in the world, not even here in the USA or any of the Scandinavian countries, that women have as many opportunities as men. And if you are female poor, and born in one of the countries worst for women, it is all too often a life sentence of inequality, oppression, and poverty. Sometimes even death.

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This year the world agreed on the new set of Sustainable Development Goals and governments are now putting those goals into action. The #PovertyIsSexist Report outlines 10 things that need to happen in 2016 to empower the women of the world and to work towards the end goal of eliminating global poverty by the year 2030.
Read the full #PovertyIsSexist Report to see why these are listed within as the 10 priority investments that need to be made now:

NUTRITION

Governments must commit historic increases in additional funding at the Nutrition for Growth II summit in Rio, and must adopt policies to strengthen data, improve accountability and build global leadership on nutrition.

GLOBAL FUND

Global Fund contributors must raise at least $13 billion to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria at this year’s replenishment round.

LEGAL EQUALITY

All governments must repeal any laws that discriminate against women; and laws that protect the legal, economic and social rights of girls and women — including the right to decide whether and when to marry — must be passed.

WOMEN’S RIGHTS

African Union member states need to prioritise women’s rights as part of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and in order to deliver on existing AU commitments.78

CONNECTIVITY

Girls and women living in the places that are hardest to reach should be connected to the Internet, and should have the appropriate education, technology, access to finance and job opportunities. Reaching girls and women will help to ensure access for all. ONE will launch a report on connectivity for the poorest later in 2016.

ENERGY ACCESS

Efforts to increase access to safe and reliable energy for everyone must continue to be a priority. Innovative financing to bring in the private sector must be combined with regulatory reforms, and support must be given to programmes such as the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s New Deal on Energy for Africa and the UN’s Sustainable Energy For All Initiative, which are aiming to bring power to the world’s poorest people.

DATA REVOLUTION

Governments, businesses and civil society must open up their own data, guarantee that all data is gender- disaggregated (including for the SDG indicators), invest in open data and support national statistical systems.

GENDER INVESTMENTS

The IDA and the AfDB should be fully funded by governments, and both should deliver increased funding targeted at girls and women in order to catalyse the fight against poverty, including through priority areas such as energy, infrastructure and connectivity. Gender markers, to identify whether funding is gender-sensitive, should be introduced by all development finance institutions and delivery organisations.

TRACKING GENDER PROGRESS

ONE commits to work closely with partners to produce a major new accountability exercise each year leveraging international women’s day (IWD) to assess progress made for women and girls through the SDGs by governments, businesses and civil society.

DIPLOMATIC PRESSURE

Governments should use political and economic means to pressure partners to deliver on equality for girls and women in the fight against extreme poverty.

 What can you do about it today on International Women’s Day? Sign the Letter! Because:
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Join Malala and National Geographic

Join Malala and National Geographic

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National Geographic Channel and 21st Century Fox Stand With Malala and You Can Too! On Monday, February 29th at 8:00 EST The Award Winning Documentary He Named Me Malala will air commercial free on the National Geographic Channel. Each time you tweet #WithMalala during the broadcast $1 will be donated to the Malala Fund.

Malala Yousafzai was only 11 when she began speaking and writing on the importance of education for girls and living under the oppression of the Taliban. At the age of 15 the world watched her amazing recovery after she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out. At 17 she became the youngest Nobel Prize winner in history and has shaped policy on the future of education for the children of the world. At this point she has joined the ranks of international celebrities who are known by just one name, Mandela, Bono, Malala.

My daughters and I have watched in awe as her journey has publicly unfolded, she has become almost mythical to us in her bravery, strength, and accomplishments, and even more endearing in her statements reminding the world that she is at the same time a “normal teenager”. Despite her modesty instead of representing “one of us”, she really represents the best of what any of us could become. The possibility of what each of us could achieve with her same vitality and determination.

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My girls!

We can’t wait to view the award-winning documentary He Named Me Malala this Monday night on the National Geographic Channel. It will be aired commercial free at 8pm Eastern Time. This movie is a must see, and my younger daughter will be hosting a viewing party to share the experience with her friends.

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Our Viewing Party Kit!

Malala’s story resonates with so many across various planes. She illustrates the change that just one person can make in the world. As a young woman she is an amazing role model for our daughters.  Her example of bravery, her willingness to fight for the rights of others, and to overcome struggle with triumph is exemplary. In my mind she clearly exposes how fearful some cultures in the world are of an educated woman.  Just imagine the tip of the global power structure that would occur if girls grew up to be women who were as educated as their male counterparts. Imagine the global progress if those currently left out of the equation were included, and educated, and could fully contribute to society in more meaningful ways. At the moment sixty million girls around the world are out of school. In some cultures education is not permitted for females, while in others girls simply don’t have time for school because they must spend the day collecting clean water for their family.

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Whatever the reason, the world is missing out on the contributions and potential of millions of girls. Malala aims to change that. The Malala Fund was founded with the goal to ensure that every girl has access to 12 years of free, safe, quality primary and secondary education. Knowledge is power, which is exactly what is so frightening about it to some. It is time to empower the girls of the world with education, and you can help! Each time you tweet using the Hashtag #WithMalala during Monday’s broadcast of He Named Me Malala $1 will be donated to the Malala Fund. If Malala can accomplish so much as just one person, imagine what we can do together!

We received the viewing party kit as a blogger for this campaign.

How To Tell The Future

How To Tell The Future

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At times wouldn’t we all love to know how to tell the future? No one knows exactly what the future may hold for them, but I am sure that I’m not the only one who wonders about it often. We learn that although we can’t predict what may happen, that what we do today will impact our tomorrows, we also learn that even then sometimes life has a way of changing the best laid plans! One thing we know for sure about planning the future is that when it comes to our kids, when we #InvestinChildhood, it pays off. According to Save the Children, kids  who are enrolled in Early Childhood Development programs are more likely to enroll in school, plan their families, become productive adults, and educate their own children than those who don’t.

Fortune favors the prepared mind.-Louis Pasteur

Infographic_31It has now been proven that early education is essential to help kids get on the right path in life. Not all children are born into the same opportunities, but if given the right tools, the playing field is leveled.  September is Bright Futures Month for Save the Children to champion the investment in childhood and provide children with the early learning essentials for a bright future. Given the right tools all kids can learn and thrive to their full potential.

It all begins at home. I am personally glad to know that the research now backs up those seemingly endless evenings when I tucked in each of my four children by reading them a book!

By the age of three children growing up in poverty without books will have heard an average of 30 million fewer words than their peers. As you can imagine they are starting off at a great disadvantage so that by the time they get into school they are about a year and half behind the kids who were read to. And they may never catch up.

The first five years of a child’s life are critical for building the foundations of success. By the time children reach five years old their brains are already 90 percent developed. If within those rapid years of growth children do not receive adequate care including being played with, spoken to, and read to, their social and emotional skills will likely be underdeveloped. Preschool is a lifesaver for the children who do not get those necessities at home, and it is Save the Children’s mission to help children in need get the early education  they need to succeed.Infographic_41

Save the Children’s Early Learning Platform, “Invest in Childhood” seeks to raise awareness among U.S. consumers of the early learning deficit that children living in poverty experience. By mobilizing our celebrity ambassadors, corporate partners and supporters, we shine a spotlight on this critically important issue to create a brighter future for children.-Save the Children

Last year during my interview with Save the Children Artist Ambassador Jennifer Garner  she talked about her visits with Save the Children to homes enrolled in the early education programs they support.

“When Save The Children rolls up and goes once a week to see them, they bring them books, they bring light, they bring life. And the main thing that I love to see is they bring encouragement for these moms.”-Jennifer Garner

We may not be able to project what the future will hold for us or our children, but it is within our power to prepare and lay down the foundations for them that we know can help lead to success.  We can also help to shape the futures of children in need by joining Save the Children to #InvestInChildhood by getting them the early learning essentials for a bright future. Together, we can help ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

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A strong start is a child’s best chance for a successful future. Let’s invest in childhood today – giving children the best chance for a better tomorrow. Learn more here.

Tell your own future by downloading, printing and creating your own future teller for you or your kids!