- For Women’s History Month, here are five stories about women empowering other women in their communities.
- The social innovators are part of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
- The strategies include using technology to combat illiteracy, supporting women-led businesses and amplifying women’s voices.
This Women’s History Month, it’s important to celebrate and salute the heroic women who are changing the world around them and empowering other women to do the same. From challenging gender stereotypes in the Arab world to teaching rural women to build their own solar panels, here are five inspiring initiatives in the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship community that are created for women, by women.
1. Barefoot College: Empowering women through technology
Barefoot College International, based in India, has demonstrated that illiteracy is not a barrier to poor communities developing themselves. The college disseminates the most sophisticated technologies to men and women who can barely read and write and trains them to become skilled professionals.
Meagan Fallone, the college’s CEO and director, has made a commitment to leveraging the “Barefoot Approach,” which involves implementing simple, radical and futuristic ideas, approaches or methods to sustainable development where the rural poor can respect and own their projects – whether building their own water pump or solar panels. The goal is to empower them to meet their community’s needs and address the pressing challenges of economic inequality, human rights and climate change at a global scale. “Inequality is not about who has more; it’s about my ability to reach my aspirations, whatever they are, with the same lack of resistance along the way,” she said.
2. Study Hall Educational Foundation: Empowering women through education
Study Hall Educational Foundation (SHEF) provides quality education to underprivileged girls and youth in urban and rural India. Using feminist-based pedagogy, gender-sensitization techniques and adolescent-empowerment discussions on social issues in the classrooms, SHEF provides teacher trainings, workshops, educational centres and vocational trainings. The goal is to empower girls to have equal participation in society.
“Education empowers women because it teaches them the most important lesson of all – they are equal persons and have the right to live and thrive according to their own choice,” said Dr. Urvashi Sahni, Founding President, Study Hall Educational Foundation. “Education not only gives them academic skills, but it teaches them that they have the right to use these skills for themselves. It is this vital lesson that empowered me and helped me fight discrimination and it is what keeps me motivated to do the work I do.”