In accordance with WIL of Greater Philadelphia’s mission of “empowering women as leaders globally,” WIL offers competitive empowerment grants to provide financial support for non-profits and NGOs working in developing countries. The empowerment grants target areas of WIL’s mission other than microfinance and village banks: education, health, training, social and political empowerment programs for women. The Empowerment Grants Committee awards grants of between $500 and $1000 to provide seed money and/or help build capacity in programs.
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WIL 2017 Empowerment Grants
The Empowerment Grants Committee is pleased to announce to WIL members that their generosity once again enabled WIL to support projects that advance the education, health, and independence of women and girls around the world. This year we were able to provide grants totaling $7,500 to eight of the eleven organizations that submitted applications. Here are those organizations, with descriptions of them and their funded projects in their own words. The committee members hope that you will find them as inspiring as we did.
1. Deline’s Gift, Senegal ($1000)
Deline’s Gift provides disabled women in the post-conflict region of Casamance, Senegal with hands-on training, seed funding, and coaching so they can become productive members of their communities. Because of Casamance’s tragic past, its women are among the most marginalized and disadvantaged of Senegal. That is especially true for disabled women who have no skills, training or capital to work with. Deline’s Gift works to give them equal opportunity to succeed. Recently 50 disabled women were trained in using local ingredients to produce a line of body care products containing soaps, hand creams, hair and body oils and lip balms. Now these women are poised to launch their products. Deline’s Gift will use the WIL grant to purchase ingredients and packaging as well as for printing labels and promotional material. The grant will also help women to travel to local fairs to display their products. Because of their disability, comfortable and dignified transportation is important, which is costly because their wheelchairs also have to be transported and paid for.
2. Fistula Foundation, Sub-Saharan Africa and SE Asia ($500)
More than one million women in the developing world suffer the pain, shame, and social isolation of obstetric fistula, a completely treatable childbirth injury almost unknown in the developed world. The Fistula Foundation was founded in 2000 as an all-volunteer organization to support one hospital in one country, Ethiopia. Between 2004 and 2008 the foundation dramatically expanded its mission to fight fistula globally. One low-coast surgery can dramatically improve the lives of women suffering from this injury. In addition to training surgeons and equipping hospitals, the Foundation runs the Love a Sister program, through which a modest donation, such as the one provided by WIL, pays for one women’s life-changing fistula surgery.
3. Love Unveiled Ministries, Uganda ($1000)
Love Unveiled Ministries was founded in March 2009, and started its operations in Kampala, Central Uganda. The organization supports the education and empowerment of girls and young women by through training and support for those in school. The grant from WIL will be used to help implement its Start, Stay and Return Program for girls in two villages in Northern Uganda. This program will have three components: Start — to ensure that all school-age girls start school. Through village leaders, all families and homes will be reached to make sure that all girls enroll in school and no girl stays at home during school hours. Stay — a campaign in schools encouraging girls to stay in school until they complete their education. Love Unveiled Ministries hopes to start SSR clubs in schools led by students and a teacher patron. Motivational talks and student workshops will be organized in schools. The program will recruit and train pioneers (at least 20 female students and two teachers) to continue the campaigns in other schools. Return — to seek out girls who have dropped out of school, examine the major causes of the high female school dropout rates in the Northern region, inform communities on the importance of girl child education, and restore some of the dropouts back to school by providing school fees and scholastic materials.
4. Society for Nurture Education and Health Advancement, India ($1000)
SNEHA was established in 1993 with a challenge to make a difference and bring transformation in the lives of the poorest of the poor and needy in the slum community in Dehradun, northern India, through a range of programs. It partners with the residents of the slum community in developing long term sustainable development plans. SNEHA focuses mainly on Women /Girls of the community by restoring basic rights to women and children by offering them medical benefits, formal education, opportunities for higher education, and empowering through skill trainings and its resilience program. SNEHA is providing formal education to nearly 1000 children from the slum community from Nursery to class XII. Children are provided with uniforms, stationery and books at a subsidized rates. Computer education is provided to all the children from class III onwards. The drop outs from school are encouraged to join the skill trainings provided by SNEHA Disabled women are also included in the skill developing programs, like learning sewing skills.
SNEHA needs to employ Assistant teachers to help the teachers in its primary school, which has 500 pupils. These young women, who are from the community, completed class XII from SNEHA, then graduated from teaching training institutions. WIL’s grant will go to pay the salaries of two of these assistant teachers.
5. Trautbuck Project, Uganda ($1000)
Trautbuck Project Uganda (TPU) started its operations in 2012 as a village support group in Kampala and Wakiso districts in Uganda through activities that include business development, education, and family empowerment. The project WIL is funding addresses the problems created by technologies traditionally employed by women for cooking (three-stone fires and unimproved charcoal stoves), which are very energy inefficient and costly, emit a lot of pollutants, and lead to respiratory and eye diseases, mainly among women and young children, while contributing to climate change on a global scale. Expenditures for health care could also be lower when using improved cooking and lighting technologies. The money not spent on excessive fuel use and health care can be used for school fees, food, and clothes or invested in income generating activities. WIL’s grant will help support the introduction of inexpensive, portable Bio-gas generating systems that “digest” easily obtained biodegradable materials such as animal dung to produce gas for cooking and lighting, thereby reducing dependence on wood and charcoal.
6. Urban Promise International, Malawi ($1000)
WIL’s grant will go to support the girls’ empowerment program at Mercy Care Malawi, an affiliate of Urban Promise International. This program currently serves 30 high school girls aged 13-19. The staff works hard to keep girls in the classroom, which is often difficult in light of the many challenges facing young women in Malawi. Childhood marriage is common, teen pregnancies and prostitution lead to high dropout rates, and few families make educational achievement a priority for their daughters. Over its three years of existence, the program has rescued girls from forced marriages, helped many women graduate from high school and get into college, and has even helped young moms return to school after childbirth. All of the program’s original twenty girls graduated from high school, and several went on to college a huge achievement in a country where the national average for girls graduating high school is less than 7%. The program offers tutoring, runs a book club to further develop reading skills, and offers career guidance classes to enlighten the girls on how to choose a career path. The program recruits women who have achieved success in different fields to serve as mentors and role models. The empowerment program also offers vocational skills classes in cooking and tailoring. Finally, in a culture where sex and HIV/Aids education are seen as taboo, the girls spend time with community health experts, and access to accurate information and support.
7. Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES), Sierra Leone ($1000)
In the decade following the civil war in Sierra Leone girls have been returning to school. They now form the bulk of the school population, yet they are the least recognized, the most violated and marginalized proportion of society. The grant from WIL will help fund the efforts by WAVES to support girls in completing their education and becoming economically, socially, culturally, and politically independent. It also seeks to sensitize and educate the general public through various strategies about upholding the rights of in and out of school girls. This project will organize orientation sessions for fifty girls on their rights, as well as meetings with school and community authorities to address child abuse, teenage pregnancy, early marriage, harmful cultural practices and violence against girl children. In addition to the above, WAVES will strengthen existing structures including child led advocacy clubs, child welfare committee, school management committee and village development committee that will take over the operation of the project and ensure sustainability when the project ends.
8. Women for Women International, Kosovo ($1000)
Women for Women International – Kosovo is a Kosovar registered non-profit built on the foundation laid by Women for Women International (WfWI). It became an independent local non-profit in January 2017. Its mission is to support the most marginalized women in Kosovo to earn and save money, improve their health and well-being, influence decisions in their home and community, and connect to networks for support. The WIL Empowerment Grant will fund a five-day capacity building and leadership training program for the 30 members of the “Pishat” women’s cooperative in Strazha, Kosovo. The members of Pishat are recent graduates from Women for Women International –Kosovo’s 12-month empowerment program, who formed the cooperative to advance and sustain their raspberry and medicinal herb agricultural businesses. The Women-for-Women/Kosovo staff has identified Pishat as a cooperative whose members need further management and project development training in order to operate autonomously and effectively.
Empowerment Grant Committee
Adele Lindenmeyr, Chair