Women’s Worldwide Web Advances Global Women’s Empowerment, Celebrates Today’s International Women’s Day

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Today’s 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day symbolizes important milestones in the efforts to defend the human rights of women across the world, yet the majority of the world’s women have not benefited from this progress and much work remains to be done

Today’s 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day symbolizes important milestones in the efforts to defend the human rights of women across the world, yet the majority of the world’s women have not benefited from this progress and much work remains to be done, says Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, founder and managing director of the Women’s Worldwide Web, an online philanthropic platform that integrates the tools of microfinance, education, mentoring and networking in order to connect and empower girls and women around the world.    

“International Women’s Day should mark an urgent renewal of our collective resolve,” said Clarke. “Men and women everywhere, from the grassroots to the international level, can work to put an end to violations of women’s human rights and to improve the global status of women, continuing our efforts to achieve women’s social, economic and political empowerment and parity."

“Despite monumental progress in women’s empowerment, the majority of the world’s women are not able to live to their full potential because their human rights are not respected. We need to act now.”
–Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke

W4, created exactly one year ago today, supports a global network of field partners that tackle vital issues concerning women and children, including education, nutrition, health care, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, sustainable economic opportunities and more. For example, one field partner is Children of Asia (Enfants D’Asie), an organization that has created education centers in Cambodia, Laos, Philippines and Vietnam. It provides schooling, college scholarships and comprehensive care for girls and young women. To date, W4 operates with 13 global non-profit partner organizations and microfinance institutions (MFIs) based in Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Philippines, Rwanda, Tanzania, Vietnam, and the United States.

Today, W4 celebrates its first anniversary while celebrating International Women’s Day, which began in 1911. Part of W4’s celebration is the impact of its philanthropic business model: the combined usage of microfinance and social entrepreneurship to generate social good.

“A majority of our field partners empower women through social mission microfinance, a financial mechanism that has been revolutionary in extending credit to people most often excluded from the financial system,” said Clarke. “Microfinance is being harnessed effectively and in creative ways to help women from poor communities establish sustainable livelihoods.”

For example:

  • The $27 Fortune. In Bangladesh, one single mother named Sufia lived in abject poverty. Despite working virtually every hour of the day weaving bamboo stools, she could not provide for herself or her three children. Then she got a $27 loan, part of a microfinance program that also helped educate her about business. The money and education took her from poverty to profitability. She is surviving and growing her small business. For Sufia and kits, $27 wasn’t just a fortune. It was a miracle.
  • Transforming lives with the ABCs. Of the approximately 72 million children denied their human right to education, two-thirds are girls; and of the world’s 760 million illiterate adults, two-thirds are women (Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010). Education improves the well-being and opportunities of each individual woman; and educated women, in turn, provide better nutrition, health care, and the education for the members of their families. It unleashes their ability to contribute socially and economically to their families' and communities' wellbeing, as well as the social and economic progress of their societies.
  • Education saves lives. There is a global pandemic of violence against women: One in three women worldwide will suffer some form of violence in her lifetime (United Nations). Educated girls and women are less vulnerable to human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. They are less vulnerable to HIV infection and better equipped to protect their own health and the health of their families. The children they raise are more likely to go to school. It enables them to take greater control of their lives and to participate in the decisions that affect them.

“Microfinance is an effective poverty alleviation tool that has yet to reach its full potential,” said Clarke. “In spite of a marked growth in the microfinance industry over the past few years, there is still a large, unmet demand for microcredit services to help the world’s poorest people. Data show that, although the microfinance sector had an estimated total loan volume of $30 billion outstanding in 2008, there is still a tremendous funding gap,” she said, adding that it’s estimated at $270 billion.

This year W4 will be launching its online microfinance platform, enabling individuals and organizations to become “MicrobusinessAngels” via the web, financing small interest-free loans (as little as $30) that are loaned by W4 field partners to people from poor communities enabling them to build income-generating activities. All details about how this works is online at http://w4.womensworldwideweb.org/w4/index.php?q=microfinance.

W4 has grown during its first year, with staff members in France, China, Lebanon, the Philippines, and the United States.

“It’s been a tough and inspiring year getting W4 off the ground. A lot of work needs to be done to raise awareness of the global imperative of working to protect girls’ and women’s rights, and above all, of the amazing opportunities that can be unleashed if we achieve that. I’m proud of all the volunteers who have contributed to this first year,” said Clarke. “I have the privilege to work among people who are passionate about our mission and purpose. Countless girls’ and women’s futures are in the balance. We must all act now.”

For more information about W4, visit http://www.womensworldwideweb.org, send e-mail to info(at)womensworldwideweb(dot)org or call + 33 (6) 88 27 50 25. In North America, you may also call (206) 683 2573.

For media queries, contact Roy G. Miller at roy(at)mzenpr(dot)com, or call (903) 422-5117.

About Women’s World Wide Web
Women’s Worldwide Web (W4), headquartered in Paris, France, launched last year on International Women’s Day 2010. W4 combines online philanthropy with the digital power of social networking to provide an innovative platform that integrates fundraising, marketing, entrepreneurship and communication. W4 enables donors and lenders to support local development initiatives across the globe. The organization has a multidisciplinary, international team. Read about the organization’s work on W4’s blog at http://www.womensworldwideweb.org/blog. W4 is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Womens-Worldwide-Web/346126507178?ref=ss

DID YOU KNOW:

  • In the world today, almost half of the global population—i.e., over 3 billion people—live in poverty, earning less than $2.50 a day. 70 percent are women and girls.
  • Microfinance and education are proven, effective tools for the sustainable alleviation of poverty and the empowerment of women and girls. The combination of microfinance and education creates greater protection of women’s human rights and improves women’s and girls’ ability to gain access to the constituents of development—in particular, health, education, earning opportunities, rights, and political participation.
  • The empowerment of girls and women is vital: it not only improves the lives of girls and women, but also brings about broader societal change, facilitating the socioeconomic advancement of countries across the world.

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