Author: Elisabeth Woodfield

The Impact of Education: Building a School in Fala, Mali

“In some parts of the world, students are going to school everyday. It’s their normal life. But in other parts of the world, we are starving for an education. It’s like a precious gift. It’s like a diamond.” –Malala Yousafzai My journey began in 2012 when I lived in Mali for several months. While I was there, I traveled to several villages. There was a stark contrast between those villages with a school, and those without a school. In villages without a school, there were a lot of malnourished children, there was a lack of energy among the people and very little excitement for life. The villages with a secondary school were happier, cleaner, and more productive. The children were eager and excited, curious and inquisitive. There was also a light in the eyes of children attending school. With additional education comes increased opportunity. Those who complete their education will likely be the next leaders of Mali and help raise their country out of poverty.   Fala, with a population of 1,587 children, is a remote village in the southern Sikasso region of …

#Commit2Deliver: Maternal and Child Health

Tomorrow marks 460 days to achieve the  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Let’s focus on MDGs 4, 5, and 6: aimed at improving maternal and child health. Here are the statistics:  6+ million children under five years old die each year. Only half of women in developing nations receive healthcare during pregnancy. In 2012, Malaria killed an estimated 627,000 people but 3.3 million malaria deaths were prevented over a span of 12 years. New data released by the United Nations show under-five mortality rates have dropped by 49 percent between 1990 and 2013. 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990.  3.3 million malaria deaths were prevented in a span of 12 years. Regardless, overall progress is still short of meeting the MDG targets by 2015. On Tuesday, we will have 456 days left to achieve the MDGS. On September 30th, join us on social media using #Day456 to draw attention to these three MDGs and the important work ahead over the next 456 days to meet these goals. Every Woman Every Child was launched in 2010 by the …

Women Who Inspire: Petunia in South Africa

My dear friend Petunia lives in South Africa and she recently started a Leadership Institute for Girls. Since we initially connected two years ago, we have stayed in touch and continue to encourage one another in our mission to empower women and girls. She is an inspiration. Petunia is currently busy with her Masters degree and working but she dedicates a lot of her spare time to making a difference in her community. At the beginning of 2014, Petunia started a Leadership Institute for Girls in one of the farm schools in her area. The Leadership Institute has three focus areas: Start a conversation with teen girls about social issues and issues they face as young girls To give confidence to young women A mentoring programme Petunia told me she started this project because of “the urge and obligation to be a part of the solution.” She says, “I have been given so much as a young woman born in South Africa. I want to give back to my younger sisters in every possible way. I believe …

UNICEF: Innovation for Girls’ Education

The beautiful thing about learning is no one can take it away from you. – B.B. King In partnership with UNICEF and the Global Education First Initiative, I moderated an online discussion on Gender Sensitivity and Girls’ Education. You can find the discussion online at World We Want: Week 2. The discussion was started in recognition of the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward. In this discussion, we had individuals from many different countries participate, including: Tajikstan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Uganda, USA, Cambodia, Nigeria, Malawi, and more. To initiate the discussion, we asked the following questions: What barriers are there to gender sensitivity in education? Why are girls less likely to attend school? How can you seek community support for efforts to promote gender sensitivity in education and empowering girls? What methods and tools can be used to work with school administration and teachers to encourage gender sensitivity? The following sections will summarize the discussion. Inspired In this discussion, we received a large number of responses with so many implemented strategies and initiatives. To …

25,000 Women for Malala

October 9th marks the one year anniversary of Malala Yousafzai’s attack. To read more about Malala, her courage and her inspiring work that has followed the brutal attempt on her life, check out Girls’ Globe blogger Emma’s post: Malala Yousafzai: One Child, One Teacher, One Pen and One Book can Change the World. In the last year, Malala has become a representative for women and girls everywhere and a champion for girls’ right to education around the world. Now it’s your turn to become a champion for girls and women. The goal is to fund 25,000 women before October 9th, the one year anniversary of Malala’s attack. DoSomething.org and Kiva have formed a partnership to honor Malala by empowering young people between the ages of 13 and 25 to help give away 25,000 micro loans of $25 to fund female entrepreneurs in Malala’s honor. You must be a new registered user on Kiva.org in order to use a $25 free loan. The campaign aims to engage youth in the fight to end poverty by inspiring them to act and …

In Memory of Mahatma Gandhi: International Day of Non-Violence

Today, October 2, is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. He would have been 144 years old. Gandhi was the leader of the Indian Independence Movement and he pioneered the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. I lived in New Delhi, India for 6 months and I loved hearing all about “Gandhi-ji” and the impact he has had on not only his country, but for the world. The International Day of Non-Violence was created by the UN in 2007 to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness” (UN). Gandhi said: “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”  One in three women throughout the world will experience physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by a non-partner. (WHO) Violence is just one of the many issues that affect the lives of women and girls. To read more about gender-based violence, visit the Girls’ Globe Gender-based Violence Archive. Read a great article about Sexual Violence by GG Blogger, …

Pledge to End Violence Against Women

I was an intern with Maitri India in New Delhi, India for 6 months in the fall of 2011. I loved my experience with Maitri! I loved working with the women and I loved knowing that they were truly making an impact. The mission of Maitri is to facilitate citizenship rights, basic services, dignity, and respect for the most vulnerable populations in India. In Sanskrit, Maitri means loving-kindness, compassion and friendship. You can read more about Maitri India on their website. It is time to eliminate violence against women. Take a stand and sign this pledge to end violence against women. This pledge has gained the support of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon and the support continues to build.    Did you see this video from Elisabeth Epstein’s recent post? Violence ends where it begins. This pledge is a way we can begin to collectively raise our voices to impact change and encourage initiative to enforce issues like violence against women.  Can we count on YOU?    Most women have or will experience violence at some point …

Empowering Women in Mali, Africa: Yeah Samaké

Malian women are strong. They work dawn to dusk taking care of their families and are usually the first to wake up and the last to go to bed. Usually they will have anywhere from 4 to 10 children. They cook, clean, chop firewood and often try to start small businesses so that they can bring in some income. All of this is usually done with a child on their back and one to two in tow. In Mali, women and men have separated incomes. The man is responsible for providing money for food and the general running of the household. Any money the women bring in can be used by her at her discretion. Having a business teaches these women how to sustain themselves. The culture in Mali is rapidly changing and it is very common to see small street businesses run by women selling anything from household items to produce. Mali is taking many steps forward. After the military coup last March 2012, just 39 days before the election, an interim government was …

G(irls)20 Summit in Russia: June 15 – 19

Today marks the first day of the G(irls)20 Summit in Moscow, Russia! The G(irls)20 Summit is for women aged 18 to 20. There are 21 delegates from 21 different countries: African Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States of America. Read more about this year’s delegates here. In the words of President and CEO of the G(irls)20 Summit, one of my heroes, Farah Mohammed, the purpose of the summit is explained as such: “The G(irls)20 Summit has invested in girls and women knowing that this yields a strong return for communities, countries and the world. With this in mind, we are here in Moscow just a few months before the G20 Leaders meeting to focus on the opportunities gained for communities, companies and countries when girls & women are economically empowered. We are looking also at the opportunities lost because each year, 14.2 million girls are forced to marry before the age of 18.” Throughout the summit, delegates will meet …

A Guide to Women’s Economic Empowerment

“Empowerment of women and gender equality are prerequisites for achieving political, social, economic, cultural, and environmental security among all peoples.” -Beijing Platform for Action, Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, CESO, a Canadian nonprofit organization, published a report on the role of women in economic development. You can access it at: Women’s Economic Empowerment: A CESO Perspective Women play a signifiant role in the world’s economy. The income of a woman contributes to the household income and a woman is more likely than a man to invest her resources into the welfare of her family. However, women face many barriers. Challenges are faced upon entering the workforce, and then once they enter the workforce, they face additional challenges of lesser pay, harassment, and more. The solutions are just as challenging as the issue itself but one word tells it all. Opportunity. “Through better jobs, more options to start and manage viable business, greater access to land, education, and skills development, and more opportunities to participate in …