There has been a lot of discussion about the role of women and innovation in development spaces in the past few months. The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals include Gender Equality (#5) and Decent Work and Economic Growth (#8) are encouraging people all over the world to find new solutions to empower #womenindevelopment.
Here at FXB, we’ve worked for 26 years to break the cycle of poverty by giving vulnerable communities the tools they need to grow their own businesses, families, and communities with a focus on children and women. Innovation is part of any successful development program, including our FXBVillages, and that’s why we are happy to share the work of these five organizations that inspire us to reimagine how women can empower themselves.
1) Priyadarshini Taxi Service: Driving Women Empowerment (India)
Priyadarshini is an all-female taxi service that was founded in 2008 by Susieben Shah, who started the venture to support her son after leaving her abusive partner. The service has grown to empower many women to work outside of the home and support themselves and their families. All of the women are given driving lessons, self defense training, and, even black pepper spray. That said, most of the clients are women, who “feel safest in our cabs.”
2) The Straw Hat Project (Brazil)
The Straw Hat Project is a collaboration between female community leaders and the state government of Pernambuco in Brazil that seeks to address the high rates of domestic violence against women. They offer a number of skill-based courses to women throughout the state so that they can earn a living for themselves, set up a small business, and thereby change their role within their households. The name “Straw Hat” Project is a reference to the straw hats these women traditionally wore while working in the field – and that protected them from the sun.
3) WE CARE Solar (Various)
The vast majority (nearly 99%) of women who die from childbirth and pregnancy each day live in developing countries. When a Dr. Laura Stachel visited Nigeria in 2008 she noted that lack of consistent, reliable and cheap access to electricity contributed to these deaths. She soon founded WE CARE Solar, and started providing portable “solar suitcases” to public health practitioners in a number of countries. Now, power outages won’t force pregnant women (or other clients) to go without medical attention when access to electricity is intermittent. These intersections between energy, healthcare and gender, also serve as great reminders of why FXB thinks #integrateddev approaches are so important.
4) Petals (UK)
Petals is a mobile app and website that helps provide women and girls throughout the world with information about FGM, as well as access to community resources if they are survivors of or at risk of FGM. Over 125 million girls have been affected by FGM and the app can help fight beliefs or educational imbalances that have allowed the practice to continue throughout the world, including in the UK where the app developers are based.
5) The Little Sister Project (India)
Domestic Violence affects one in three women worldwide, but one of the major barriers to addressing this problem is the low rates of reporting. SNEHA, or The Society for Nutrition, Education & Health Action is a Mumbai-based NGO that launched the “Little Sister Project” almost one year ago to change the way that incidents of domestic violence are recorded, and in turn responded to. Women are trained to identify and report incidents of domestic violence and are given the tools to visit homes and look for signs of abuse. Starting in the Dharavi region within India, SNEHA hopes that it will be able to launch the program pan-India.