The One Woman Initiative, a one-year-old public/private initiative to empower women in countries with significant Muslim populations, announced its first grants, totaling more than $500,000 to five grassroots organizations in Azerbaijan, Egypt, India, Pakistan and the Philippines. The OWI grants are being made to locally focused organizations with results-oriented programs providing women access to legal rights, political participation, and economic development.
Reflecting the combined efforts of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. State Department and leading private sector interests, the One Woman Initiative was launched on May 12, 2008. Since its inception, OWI and its leaders have focused on how to raise funds and award grants totaling $100 million over the course of five years to support organizations that directly assist women in the countries with large Muslim populations.
“These grants address the unique barriers women face—barriers like gender inequity and lack of economic and political opportunity,” said One Woman Initiative Fund Chair Carly Fiorina. “Investments in women can lift entire families out of poverty, transform communities, and foster peace and prosperity, We are particularly sensitive to the potential of women in Muslim majority countries, at this watershed moment, when family and community stability can contribute to the peace and security we all seek.”
“This unique collaboration combines the strengths and expertise of the USG with the perspectives and experience from the private sector,” said USAID’s Counselor Lisa Chiles. “Partnerships such as this one are vital to enable new avenues of social and economic empowerment for women.”
In her comments, CAFAmerica CEO Susan Saxon-Harrold cited “Issue Brief: Women’s Leadership in the Muslim World,” published today by CAFAmerica. Saxon-Harrold said: “Many Muslim women today face the same barriers to female empowerment that existed a century ago: little access to education, domestic violence, and few or no legal rights. However, in the past five years, due in large part to women’s increasing activism and participation in all sectors of public life, this picture is changing. CAFAmerica is pleased to be part of the important OWI initiative to help encourage further progress in this realm.”
The details of the five OWI grants announced today are as follows:
- In Pakistan, with a grant of $100,256 the Kashf Foundation plans to step into the rural microfinance market in Pakistan with a purely women-centric approach. Kashf will launch a rural microfinance program developing activities such as agriculture and livestock-related products, crop insurance, and a mobile microfinance service.
- In Egypt, the Association for Human and Environmental Development will receive a $95,000 grant for a Justice Initiative project that will provide leadership training for women, raise awareness about women’s constitutional rights and encourage women’s political participation.
- In India, the Group for Urban and Rural Development will receive a $106,000 grant to provide women greater access to economic development opportunities through entrepreneurship training and job placement activities.
- In Azerbaijan, the Women’s Bar Association will receive a $96,000 grant to provide women access to legal advice and training on issues related to women’s rights, including domestic violence, trafficking of women, early marriage, and gender equality.
- In the Philippines, Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc. will receive a $124,500 grant in 2009 to focus on conflict prevention through skills training, workshops and networking in the areas of conflict management and peace building. MKFI will develop and strengthen a network of women’s peace organizations.
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