“We search the world for a woman leader with a daring vision.” As part of the mission statement of the organization Vital Voices, this sentence is the first step to giving women worldwide the equality they seek. Step two of Vital Voices is to partner with that woman leader to give her the financial support, skills training, and network of women she needs to attain her goals.
The efforts of Vital Voices take on a three-part structure: human rights, economic empowerment, and political and public leadership. Women are making changes at local and global levels in the hopes of achieving economic freedom, and rights for victimized and oppressed women.
The human rights sector addresses violence against women, combatting the statistic that one in three women will experience violence in her lifetime. Human trafficking initiatives in Uganda and Cameroon work closely with local governments to crack down on trafficking laws and efforts to put a stop to the industry. Aid programs and services for victims are also key to personal recovery and to successful prosecution of perpetrators.
Another program in the human rights sector of Vital Voices is the Gender-Based Violence Emergency Response and Protection Initiative. Looking to address extreme gender-based violence (GBV) and including individual traditions around the world, this initiative has three goals: provide emergency assistance, provide “advocacy support, prevention and technical assistance to GBV survivors,” and create a base for local and global networking.
Recently, the GBV initiative was granted funding from the U.S. government to increase the branches of the program and reach young women who are being forced into marriage in Jordan and Turkey. And this November, Vital Voices will host its first conference on GBV Response Initiative in Mexico City. With the GBV response programs expanding at such a rapid rate, Vital Voices is making a huge difference in trying to reduce the one-in-three statistic.
In terms of economic empowerment, women are disproportionately discriminated against when looking to run a business and invest independently. Vital Voices provides leadership and business training workshops, networking opportunities, and advocacy for investment for women looking to break into the male-dominated business world. To help promote the efforts of small business women around the world, Vital Voices collects data from participants, and publishes the research to create an international forum to promote economic growth.
Fellowships and mentoring programs are one-year and six-month systems designed to help women construct their small businesses through leadership programs, impactful community actions, and micro loans. Through partnerships with other companies, Vital Voices also supports young American students who are looking to make a difference in their community. This past year, ANNpower fellows received funding for programs such as 3D printing robotic hands for children in need and promoting inter-religious understanding at the local high school.
Research on women in politics and public roles conducted by Vital Voices is the basis for the third sector. According to the data collected, increased female presence in politics has led to “education reforms, social development, and achieving gender equality across all sectors.” Vital Voices supports and encourages women in the public sphere, and conducts strategy sessions to reach more women around the world.
The best way you can get involved is by donating to Vital Voices. Your donation will provide support for the programs and, more directly, to the women in need of economic sustenance and business encouragement. In addition to just monetary contribution, Vital Voices offers volunteer and internship positions for those looking to delve deeper into the efforts this organization is making. Invest in women. Improve the world.
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