Category Archives: Global awareness

Tools For Empowering Global Women; Book Review of 100 Under $100

Tools For Empowering Global Women; Book Review of 100 Under $100

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“Women make up half our entire population. When they’re held back, half the world’s potential goes unrealized. But when women and girls are empowered, we’re not just better by half. The world is twice as good.”

-Melinda Gates #BetterByHalf campaign

As we reach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and world leaders set forth a new set of global goals leading up to 2030, it has become increasingly clear that women and girls need to be at the center of development initiatives. Why women and girls? As Betsy Teutsch points out in her new book 100 under $100 One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women It has to do with what is referred to as The Girl Effect.  This refers to the fact that when you educate girls they tend to marry later, in turn give birth later, and are able to better contribute to the economy. Research has also shown that when women have economic power, more of those resources are invested back into her family than when men do. Women are also more likely to educate their own daughters. This means the next generation will also contribute more effectively to the nation’s economy.

I was thrilled for the opportunity through Mom Bloggers For Social Good to review the new book 100 under $100 by Betsy Teutsch where exciting change-makers and transformative ideas improving the lives of women around the world to make it a better place are compiled in  this one volume.  These are exactly the stories of people and ideas that I love to share. It is exciting to see the impact that these simple low-cost solutions to the worlds most pressing problems have on the lives of individuals, and therefore the impact on entire communities.

As far as I am concerned this book is a must have resource for anyone interested in global development, women’s issues, being a global change-maker, or seeing the end to extreme poverty in our world. Many of the solutions highlighted show just how one person can create a huge impact on other’s lives with their ideas and initiative.  Extreme poverty and global development dilemmas are often multi faceted and layered with issues, and this book has broken them down into low-cost solutions ranging from free, like promoting Kangaroo care and breastfeeding to save newborn lives, to the cookstoves and bicycles that cost closer to the $100 mark. Each tool is presented in a way that clearly bullet points the ways in which the subject of concern impacts lives, what is not working, and ways the highlighted tool is able to improve lives.

I was excited to see non-profits that I have worked with or written about, and solutions that I have seen being put into practice on the pages of this book. To highlight just a few;

Shot@Life is a campaign with the United Nations Foundation that I have been involved with for several years that promotes, advocates, and educates on the power of global vaccines to save lives. In the developing world every 20 seconds a child will die from a vaccine preventable disease. Most children in the western world have been vaccinated against many of these diseases such as Polio, Measles, Whooping Cough and Rotavirus that causes diarrhea. Vaccines have been called one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children around the globe. (pg. 6)

Photo by Heidi Reed

Photo by Heidi Reed

Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions is a non-profit based in my home state of Rhode Island that treats about 600,000 children a year for malnutrition with Plumpy’Nut and other products that they produce as part of the PlumpyField Network. I have been fortunate enough to work with them as they expand into a larger facility that will ultimately enable them to reach an estimated 2 million children a year with their life saving ready to use food packets. Malnutrition is the leading contributing factor to the majority of child deaths worldwide and stunting from lack of proper nutrition impacts over 100 million children around the globe. It is imperative to proper development to get suitable nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life and Plumpy’Nut has been shown to bring a child from severe acute malnutrition to a healthy weight in just seven weeks of treatment. The cost of life saving treatment around $55.oo per child. (pg. 15 )

CleanBirth.org was founded by one of my co-contributors to World Moms Blog, Kristyn Zalota, and each year we have been involved in supporting, and fundraising to help provide life saving clean birth kits for women in Laos. In 100 under $100 Betsy Teutsch estimates that around 60 million women will give birth at home, mostly on dirt floors each year in developing countries. Sepsis is the highest cause of maternal and newborn deaths in these settings, an infection that is preventable with sterile birth. ayzh, the company that makes the kits provided by clean birth.org, distributes the kits globally to save the lives of mothers and their babies.  Clean birth kits provide sterile essential materials that women might even need to provide for themselves birthing in a low-resource medical facility. (pg. 27)

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Photo Source CleanBirth.org

World Pulse is an organization with the goal of digital inclusion for women everywhere, it gives voice and digital access, as a means of empowerment, to those without.  I was a “listener” for the World Pulse “Women Weave The Web” campaign, where I interacted online with women all over the world telling their stories, and sharing their experiences, often from low-resource settings in internet cafes or women’s centers. The need for digital access was very clear, as was the resulting empowerment of access to the broader world, and the significance of their ability to give voice to their experiences. (pg. 119)

Solar Sister has to get an honorable mention because this social enterprise that brings solar energy and entrepreneurial opportunities to women in Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria was also  founded by women in my state of Rhode Island.  ”Solar Sister eradicates energy poverty by empowering women with economic opportunity.” (pg.37)

100 under $100 One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women written by Betsy Teutsch, and published by She Writes Press, will be available in March of 2015. You can order your copy to read about more innovative ideas, products, resources, companies, and ways to get involved, and further become the global citizen we all need to be.

I received a free copy of this book and wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

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#APathAppears Premieres Tonight On PBS

#APathAppears Premieres Tonight On PBS

“Hope is like a path in the countryside. Originally, there is nothing-but as people walk this way again and again, a path appears.”- Quote from Lu Xun a Chinese essayist, 1921

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Tonight the first of three episodes of the documentary A Path Appears, executive produced and directed by Maro Chermayeff, will air on PBS.  The film is based on the book by the same name written by Pulitzer prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and follows their reporting on issues around the world that highlight gender inequalities, and vulnerabilities that perpetuate cycles of poverty.  The journalists and celebrity activists Malin Akerman, Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow, Jennifer Garner, Regina Hall, Ashley Judd, Blake Lively, Eva Longoria, and Alfre Woodard highlight the issues and the hopeful stories of solutions being put into action.  We are given an inside look at the harsh realities of human trafficking, abuse and neglect that marginalize a segment of the population, and are introduced to some of the innovators, and the change makers who lead the way in showing us just how determination and intervention can transform lives.

Last week I was invited by World Moms Blog founder Jennifer Burden and Save The Children to attend a screening of  A Path Appears followed by a discussion panel with Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn, Actress Malin Ackerman, Director Maro Chermayeff and President and CEO of Save The Children, Carolyn Miles at the New York Historical Society in New York City.

L to R: Polly Palumbo, Jennifer Burden, Elizabeth Atalay, Tanya Weinberg , and Kyla P'an

L to R: Polly Palumbo, Jennifer Burden, Elizabeth Atalay, Tanya Weinberg , and Kyla P’an

It is eye-opening and tough to watch some of the realities played out in these episodes, but at the same time so important for viewers to gain better understanding of the issues.  Many have the general perception that a prostitute has chosen their way of life, when in reality many are trapped by pimps or in human trafficking rings with no way out. In the film, early sexual abuse of several of the subjects led to their life on the streets without them ever having known a protector to help them identify as a victim and empower them to get help, and make different choices.

Approximately 15% of men in the Unite States of America purchase sex, and few are ever prosecuted. The film highlights a solution that focuses on the demand side of the multi-billion dollar trafficking industry, knowing that making the risk higher would reduce the demand that keeps young girls entrapped in a vicious cycle of being trafficked.

The second episode airs next Monday, Feb. 2 at 10 pm EST on PBS and it entitled “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty.  Save The Children’s early education program is featured in this episode as Nicholas Kristof travels to West Virginia with Save the Children’s Artist Ambassador Jennifer Garner.   I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Garner on this issue of early childhood education as part of the #FindTheWords campaign last October and was amazed to learn that by the age of three many children living in poverty will have heard an average of 30 million fewer words than their peers, putting them behind before they even begin school. Sponsors help fund the important home visits that children like these receive from Save The Children to give them that chance to succeed that every child deserves.

At the event the other night we met one of the stars of the third episode that will air on February 9th, Jessica Posner Odede, who with her husband Kennedy Odede, who grew up in Kibera, the largest urban slum on the African continent, founded Shining Hope For Communities, and with that the Kibera School For Girls.

Educating a girl in urban slums means she will earn more and invest 90% of earnings in her family, be three times less likely to contract HIV, and have fewer, healthier children who are more likely to reach adulthood.-SHOFCO.org

After watching A Path Appears you will not only be more informed on these global issues that impact all of our communities on some level, but have hope, that if enough people led the path of change for the better, and the rest of us follow, that in fact a path to solutions to ending poverty will in fact appear.

Watch A Path Appears tonight 10pm Eastern Standard Time on PBS

Children Of The Millennium & #action2015

Children Of The Millennium & #action2015

 

Photo Credit: C.C. Chapman   http://www.cc-chapman.com

Photo Credit: C.C. Chapman
http://www.cc-chapman.com

Last week my niece Delilah was part of a historic moment in time, when on January 15th of 2015 15-year-olds from around the world joined a movement spearheaded by Save The Children and the ONE Campaign to ask governments to do better, and to involve youth in the process of  building the future they want to see. This was part of the launch of the #action2015 campaign to engage the public in the historic opportunity this year that we all have to shape the future of our world.

My amazing niece Delilah on the far left.  Photo Credit: C.C. Chapman

My wonderful niece Delilah on the far left.
Photo Credit: C.C. Chapman

As the mother of a fifteen year old  daughter as well it is amazing to think that in the year that my daughter was being born, the Millennium Development Goals were set in motion. The eight Millennium Development Goals had been put in place by the then 189 member nations of the United Nations to free people around the globe from extreme poverty and the depravations that cause or are a result of it. In the year 2000 my baby was my universe, so I am grateful that while our lives were so nuclear, steps were being taken to ensure that she would grow up to live in a greater world working towards equality for all.

2015 is significant as this first set of goals expire December 31st of this year, and in 2015 transformative meetings are being held to write new ones. This year will dictate the post-2015 course of action to keep the momentum of progress going. Great progress has been made in the past two decades, child mortality has been halved, the number of maternal deaths have been reduced by at least a 1/4, and the world is nearly (99%) Polio free. In fact Bill Gates believes that by 2035 there will barely be any poverty stricken countries left.

The exciting thing to me is that these facts prove that progress is possible with the right infrastructure in place.  The children of the millennium, our fifteen year olds who have matured with these first set of global goals, and others of their generation, will eventually be the stewards of the next phase of eliminating poverty in this world. In their lifetimes it is possible that they will see an end to global poverty as we know it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gifts That Give Back Guide 2014, Creating Change Through Economic Opportunity

Gifts That Give Back Guide 2014, Creating Change Through Economic Opportunity

In October I attended the ONE Girls & Women AYA Summit at the Google Headquarters in DC. One of the many powerful panels we heard from was entitled Change Through Economic Opportunity, and both major fashion companies and small start-ups weighed in on how they are impacting the lives of women through economic empowerment.  There are so many fantastic places to purchase gifts holiday season, but why not use the power of your wallet to also help to lift a woman out of poverty when you purchase them. I feel like this makes the giving even sweeter. Not only will the recipient love what they get, but you both will know it had a positive impact on someone else’s life somewhere in this world. To me it feels like giving twice. Here are my top picks this year to use my purchasing power for social good from the AYA Summit panelists and beyond.

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Vase from the Heart of Haiti line

 

Gorgeous clutch from the Kate Spade On Purpose line

Gorgeous clutch from the Kate Spade On Purpose line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macy’s sells a line of goods called Heart of Haiti, designed to enrich and improve the lives of the artisans that create beautiful goods. Established after the massive earthquake in 2010, Heart of Haiti was created as a sustainable way to help repair Haiti’s fragile economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been a huge fan of Kate Spade since she began so I was thrilled when I met Sydney Price and heard her speak about the Kate Spade On Purpose line at the AYA Summit panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity.   Each piece in this collection is handcrafted in Rwanda creating sustainable economic opportunities for women and reshaping their community.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 9.54.08 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.00.42 AMI also met Jane Mosbacher Morris at the AYA Summit where she participated in the panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity. I love her story from policy to retail and was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her a few days ago and get more insight into her path to founding To The Market. To The Market is a marketplace for survivor made goods, whether it is from war, disaster, or abuse, To The Market provides a market for the beautiful handcrafted goods that give women survivors a chance to support themselves and their families.

fashionable copyScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.03.40 AMI had the pleasure of visiting the FashionABLE factory in Ethiopia this past summer and have been writing about and wearing the gorgeous scarves made in Ethiopia for years. That made it such a thrill to finally meet founder Barrett Ward at the AYA Summit this past fall where he participated on the Change Through Economic Opportunity panel as well. They are now expanding operations to include products made in Kenya and a beautiful line of leather products, all while providing social service programs of health care, education in a trade, and assistance with child care for their artisans to help them build better lives for themselves and their families.

Photo by Heidi Reed

Photo by Heidi Reed

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.05.10 AMFor the person who has everything that you still want to let know you are thinking of them, there are many non profits where you can gift a gift in a loved ones name.  Often the non-profit will send them a certificate or note saying that you did so. This year I am supporting the non-profit Edesia, based in Rhode Island, that provides nutritional supplements for prevention and treatment of malnutrition in children. Edesia products are specifically created to treat babies and children during the critical first five years of life. If they do not get proper nutrition within those first five years, and most critically the first thousand days of life, they may be stunted and never reach their full potential. If you make a donation on the Edesia website in the notes section and list name of the person in whose name the donation is being made and their address, Edesia will send them a post card letting them know.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.38.48 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.27.50 AMOh, and how can I forget wine!? One Hope Wine where 1/2 of the proceeds goes to educating girls, which we know is key to global development. When a girl is educated she will tend to get married later, have fewer children, and contribute economically to her family.

 For more ideas on gifts that give back check out my past gift guides from 2012 (That includes Heifer International), 2013 and for foodies

Inspiring Women: Bringing Survivor Made Goods To The Market

Inspiring Women: Bringing Survivor Made Goods To The Market

Manna Prayer House-1One of the amazing women that I met last month at the AYA Summit was Jane Mosbacher Morris.  She had taken part in a panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity, and was impressive to me in her transition from working on human trafficking issues, and for the U.S. Department of State in counterterrorism, to founding a market place for survivor made goods. To The Market provides a path to economic empowerment for women survivors of abuse, conflict and disease. Fascinated with Jane’s path to founding To The Market I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her  about her inspirations, her journey and her goals.

Elizabeth Atalay: Personally on what level does this issue resonate with you?

Jane Mosbacher Morris:  Economic independence deeply resonates with me for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is because I greatly value my own economic independence and the basic choices that it affords me over the direction of my life.  When a person has some form of economic independence, it opens up a world of choice.  Alternatively, when you are completely dependent on someone or something else, you have very little leverage or ability to influence pretty fundamental things about your life—do you want to marry?  Do you want to get educated?  Where do you want to live?  What do you want to eat?

Working on the intersection of women and security for the first part of my career revealed how little control many of the most marginalized persons in our world have over their life.  It’s very hard to grant a person control over her life, however—a person usually has to take control of her life.

  The longer I worked on different women and security issues, the longer I believed that providing an opportunity for vulnerable populations to access economic independence is an extremely effective way for persons to claim (or in many cases, reclaim) control over their trajectory.

TO THE MARKET’s (TTM) model is to partner with existing organizations currently employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease.  These partners believe that providing the dignity of work is the best way to empower the survivor populations that they are trying to uplift.  TTM’s job is to help these partners succeed by creating additional distribution channels for their survivor-made products; amplifying the stories of survivors and their champions; and providing business services, like trend forecasting and basic mental health resources, to improve their production and management.

Elizabeth: How were you able to apply your experience from policy to a retail social enterprise?

Jane Mosbacher Morris: My time at the U.S. State Department focusing on policy influenced my perspective on how to best approach some of the social issues TO THE MARKET aims to address.  When you are working in a policy role, you’re often forced to examine a challenge on a regional or even global scale, allowing for patterns to emerge that are hard to identify when you are working on the ground.  Policies, whether created in a government, NGO, or private sector organization, are supposed to be a reflection of best practices and lessons learned.  Cutting my teeth in DC provided me access to information from colleagues from around the world, presenting feedback on what was and was not working well from a policy and programmatic standpoint.  One major takeaway from my time at the Department was that for a variety of reasons, governments tend to be pretty hamstrung when it comes to creating jobs, which is unfortunate, because an access to an earned income is probably one of the top things that people want.   Accordingly, I believed that I could support and cultivate economic independence for survivor populations more efficiently outside of the government and non-profit world.

Elizabeth: Where do you find the groups that you work with?

Jane Mosbacher Morris: When I founded TO THE MARKET, I was only aware of a handful of organizations employing survivors (two of which I had visited in Kolkata, India, sparking my idea! Thank you Sari Bari and Freeset!).  That handful quickly grew to our current list of over 150 organizations employing survivors.  One aspect that is very encouraging about working in the social enterprise space is that people are exceptionally collaborative.  When I would speak to someone working in Mumbai, for example, they would say, “you must meet my friend who is working with XYZ survivor population.”  These organizations are staffed by people that tend to follow the mantra that “a rising tide raises all ships.”

Elizabeth: Is there an area of the world that you are more focused on than another?

Jane Mosbacher Morris: TO THE MARKET doesn’t focus on a specific part of the world, but instead uses the criteria of whether an organization is employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease.  We have partners all over the globe, including the U.S., but the specific model of employing survivors to produce a product tends to be more common in East Africa and South/Southeast Asia.  The development of these “nodes” can probably be attributed to a few things.  For one, organizations tend to build off of existing handicraft capacities, like beading, sewing, or weaving.  Another likely reason that this model works well in these parts of the world is that the economics tend to work—you can pay a living wage and still price the products competitively in a U.S. market.  Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the impact that the faith-based community has had on the development of these social enterprises.  A notable number of these organizations have been started after a particularly impactful mission or volunteer trip.

Elizabeth: How closely will you be able to follow the progress of the artisans and their journeys toward financial sustainability?

Jane Mosbacher Morris: We are extremely fortunate in that we have a wonderful working relationship with our partners.  I tend to have a good idea of what is going on within these organizations, including whether their sales are healthy enough to continue to employ their survivor artisans.  One of our partners is currently only employing one woman, while another is able to provide steady work to hundreds of women.  Expansion is not always the best decision for these organizations if it means that they are putting the business at risk or they aren’t able to monitor the survivors’ mental, physical, spiritual, and financial health as closely. It’s a tricky balance!

You can do your part by shopping at To The Market this holiday season and beyond for beautiful gifts that give back.

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