5 Online Campaigns Empowering Women and Girls

Image credit: 
YouTube / Half the Sky Movement

Women make up half the world's population, but they face serious challenges—for instance, one third of the world's girls are married before age 18 (with a shocking 1 in 9 married before age 15!). Here are five projects working to close the gap, by focusing on the needs of women and girls.

1. Half the Sky Movement - Games for Good

Where it comes from: Half the Sky was created by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn based on a book they wrote together. Their book chronicles the lives of women throughout Africa and Asia, and argues that one key to progress for the global economy is to unleash the power of women in the labor force. Following the success of the book, Half the Sky moved to a digital platform.

What it does: Beyond the book itself, there's a Facebook Game in which you play as various women around the world solving quests. At various points, the game illustrates why certain issues are important, and encourages players to engage in real-world charitable giving (...or you can keep playing for free, and eventually unlock a partner organization's charitable gift).

There's also a four-hour documentary series (it's streaming on Netflix) and a trio of simple mobile games targeted at the kinds of phones that people actually use in developing countries.

Here's a look at how the mobile games were created:

What it has achieved: I'll just quote from Half the Sky's website:

To date, supporters of the movement have donated more than $5 million to organizations helping women and girls; more than 1.1 million people have played the Facebook game; and more than 1,500 campus and community ambassadors have hosted screenings, held panel discussions, and educated members of their communities about the issues facing millions of women and girls and the inspiring individuals and organizations that are working for a fairer, freer world.

2. Because I Am A Girl: Plan International

Where it comes from: Because I Am A Girl is a project from Plan International (known as "Plan" for short). Plan led the drive to create the Day of the Girl, celebrating girls' rights and increasing visibility of the issues of child marriage and gender inequality.

What it does: Because I Am A Girl creates projects in developing countries that provide access to health care, education, clean water and food, finance, and protection from exploitation. You can view a map of the projects currently underway, and click on each to read more about it (each project has a blog, ways to get involved, and ways to donate). You can also start your own project.

What it has achieved: There are nine projects underway around the world, 4,840 promises made to stand against gender inequality, and Plan activists are stopping child marriages—sometimes on camera!

3. Shot@Life

Where it comes from: Shot@Life is a campaign to protect children by providing life-saving vaccines. By improving awareness about (and funding for) vaccines, Shot@Life is all about reducing preventable childhood deaths.

What it does: Shot@Life is mainly about education and advocacy. The main tool for achieving these goals is their Shot@Life Champions program, in which local leaders can receive training (and even minor funding) to help raise local awareness of the importance of vaccination. Here's a video diary from Shot@Life Champion Cindy Changyit Levin, as she prepares to visit a Congressional representative:

What it has achieved: 192,973 people have pledged to "be a child's shot at life," and Shot@Life explains the overall impact of vaccines for children on its website:

Vaccines currently help save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year. With your help, global vaccination programs implemented by our partners can stop the 1.5 million unnecessary deaths that still happen every year, and ensure that all children, no matter where they live, have a shot at a healthy life.

4. Chime for Change

Where it comes from: Chime for Change is a campaign focused on education, health, and justice for girls and women. It was founded by Gucci and partners with the crowdfunding platform Catapult. The idea is to help people connect with Catapult projects that make a difference.

What it does: Chime for Change is supported by major celebrities including Salma Hayek Pinault, Frida Giannini, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Last year they put on a concert supporting the cause, and they have a film unit creating mini-documentaries, a storytelling platform to collect and share stories about girls and women, and a team-based approach to highlighting projects worthy of funding. (I hate to play favorites, but I'm all about Team Beyoncé.)

What it has achieved: As of November 25, 2013, Chime for Change reported on their progress so far. From that report:

To date, CHIME FOR CHANGE has raised $4.4 million to fully fund more than 260 projects in 81 countries, across 87 non-profit partners. ...

... hundreds of girls and women have received support and tools to empower themselves and their communities, including:

  • 75 sex trafficking victims who have been rescued, and provided with shelter and services
  • 30 young women in the United Kingdom who received mentoring to help them cope with domestic trauma and seek safety
  • 250 young global leaders currently receiving training in NYC to end street harassment
  • Victims of domestic violence in Southern Bulgaria, who now have a local Global Fund for Women branch supporting their needs
  • 340 girls who attended education workshops in India
  • 5,000 patients in Afghanistan who received healthcare and education for one month
  • 655 children in Brazil who received supplies to continue their schooling
  • 127 women in Cambodia who received literacy, life skills and job training
  • 600 people in Ethiopia with access to clean water thanks to two new wells
  • 120 girls who received scholarships to attend secondary school in Malawi
  • 450 young Peruvian women who were educated about HIV/AIDS and pregnancy

There's more where that came from.

5. No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project

Where it comes from: Launched in November, No Ceilings is a project led by Hillary Rodham Clinton, aimed at measuring the progress of women's rights.

What it does: No Ceilings is performing a global review of data about women, to identify where progress has been made and where gaps remain. The idea is that by determining where women stand today, it will be easier to make progress going forward.

Chelsea Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Melinda Gates. Image via Instagram.

What it has achieved: No Ceilings is still very young, so there's not much to point to yet. When Clinton announced the initiative in November, her speech included a clear explanation of why this project matters. My favorite bit was this:

So even though I’ve been doing this for a lot of years now, I am more convinced than ever we are right on the cusp. It used to be, when I would go visit a president or a prime minister and talk about women’s rights, their eyes would glaze over. But when I would say, “And oh, by the way, empowering your women and their economic opportunities means you’ll increase the gross domestic product of your country” – in fact, based on the new research we had, I could show them it’d go up this much percent in Japan, and this much in Korea, and this much in Germany or the United States – or I could say, “If you look at what’s happening in India, villages led by women have more drinking water and child immunizations, a lower gender gap in school attendance and less corruption, so it makes for a more peaceful, productive community.” We have the technology, we have the data, so we are at this turning point, and if we, the women of the United States, act decisively, we can make a real difference not only far from home, but here at home.

February 14, 2014 - 8:00am
webby
The Gates Foundation believes all lives have equal value. Do you? Sign up to receive weekly updates from our blog, Impatient Optimists.
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life. We believe that tremendous progress is happening, but there are still great inequities we’re impatient to see addressed. It’s why we named our blog, Impatient Optimists. Our work is challenging, but we know we can get there. We cannot succeed alone, however. We need your help. If you’re into big thinking and big ideas to solve the world's biggest challenges (and we assume you are if you're reading Mental Floss), visit Impatient Optimists and become a part of the Gates Foundation community.
submit to reddit