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The month of March is one of ups and downs – we should beware the Ides but then cut loose on St Patrick’s Day; remember victims of slavery and detained/missing UN staff members – and also celebrate women, women’s achievements and progress.
Women Deliver, an NGO working globally to generate political commitment and financial investment for fulfilling Millennium Development Goal #5 (to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health), released their “Women Deliver 50″ earlier this month. It’s a list of the 50 most inspiring ideas and solutions that are impacting the health, education and rights of girls and women – and demonstrates that powerful ideas have the potential to revolutionize the world.
It is great that these projects are being presented to a wider audience – please take a minute to go have a look at the list of nominees and winners.
A couple that stood out for me were “Schools for Husbands”, “Solar Sister” and “AfriPads”.
Schools for Husbands is an initiative aiming to improve reproductive health in Niger, where a woman dies every 2 hours in giving birth. Men are very much in control in Niger, so if something is to change, husbands, fathers and sons need to be targeted. The Schools are showing signs of success in altering attitudes toward maternity wards, and improving maternal health – an important step in development.
Based in Eastern Africa, Solar Sister (in their own words) “combine the breakthrough potential of solar technology with a deliberately woman-centered direct sales network to bring light, hope and opportunity to even the most remote communities in rural Africa.” Investors provide female entrepreneurs with a ‘business in a bag’ which allows enterprising women to spread solar technology throughout their communities and networks, replacing kerosene lamps, while earning commission to enable them to support their families.
The third project I want to mention caught my eye because I must admit, it deals with something which – living in Europe – I wouldn’t even think about. AfriPads is a response to the thousands of lost education-hours in Uganda due to menstruation: many girls in rural areas cannot afford mainstream sanitary products so cut school at that time of the month. AFRIpads are low-cost, reusable cloth sanitary pads which generate an income for the local Ugandan women who manufacture them, as well as helping schoolgirls keep on track.
There are many more incredible projects – go have a look and if one project grabs you, find out how you can help!
Originally published here by the Foreign Policy Association.