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March 2011

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Celebrating 100 Years of International Women's Day

March 8 sees an inspiring level of global activity each year in honor of International Women’s Day – a "global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future,” according to the official Web site. This year marks the centenary of the phenomena first celebrated in 1911, and this special issue of Innovations honors the spirit of this important day by focusing on how Winrock’s work has impacted and improved the lives of  women around the world.



In AIDS-affected communities in southern Africa, grandmothers are often forced to assume responsibility for the children who have been orphaned by the epidemic. Winrock’s USAID-funded AMBASSADORS GIRLS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM helps alleviate some of the financial burden on these grandmothers by offering scholarships to their grandchildren. Read the full story.
 


In rural Kenya, women have very few resources to call their own. Employment and income generating opportunities for women are meager, particularly given time constraints from their heavy household demands. Winrock’s USAID-funded Partnership for Safe Poultry in Kenya (PSPK) program offers a viable solution for rural, food insecure families, providing women with opportunities to increase their income. Read the full story.
 


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Winrock Co-Sponsors Forum Dedicated to Safe Indoor Air for Women and Children
Winrock co-sponsors PCIA Forum dedicated to safe indoor air for women and childrenEvery year an estimated 1.5 million people – mostly women and children – die from exposure to indoor smoke associated with household cooking and heating. The problem is especially acute among the most poor in developing countries. As an organizing sponsor of the 5th Biennial Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA) Forum, which was held in Lima, Peru, Feb. 21-26, Winrock International is dedicated to solving the problem.

Gathered at the forum were more than 350 government and private sector leaders from energy, health and other fields who work tirelessly around the world to reduce the harmful indoor smoke exposure experienced by far too many women and children. The forum gives greater visibility to the far-reaching problem, as well as innovative solutions – such as improved cookstoves and safer heating and cooking practices – that improve the health and quality of life for millions of families.

“It’s been thrilling to see the partnership grow from a handful of organizations to more than 460 partners all working to reduce smoke exposure in households around the world,” says Elisa Derby, program officer at Winrock International. “The forum is an incredible opportunity for partners to come together face-to-face to share lessons learned and move toward achieving common goals.”

Winrock Supports Women Entrepreneurs at New Arkansas Women’s Business Center
Winrock supports women entrepreneurs at new Arkansas Women's Business CenterWith the percentage of women-owned businesses on the rise in Arkansas, Winrock International has positioned itself to offer more customized services to women small-business owners. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Arkansas Women’s Business Center opened March 3 in El Dorado, Ark., and offers women entrepreneurs opportunities to receive training, technical assistance and access to capital services.

The AWBC is part of Winrock’s “BIG DEAL” initiative: Bringing Innovation and Growth by Delivering Enterprise Assistance Locally. Through BIG DEAL, Winrock is helping small-business owners start, grow and manage their companies by providing them with the tools and skills needed in a competitive marketplace.

“Successful companies listen and constantly seek innovative solutions to meet the needs of their clients,” says Annett Pagan, director of U.S. Programs at Winrock. “Our portfolio of entrepreneur assistance programs helps company leaders analyze these critical details of their businesses to ensure they succeed, and even thrive – particularly during these challenging economic times.”        

Winrock-Implemented GEE Scholarship Program Helping Young Women in Southern Sudan
Winrock-implemented GEE Scholarship Program is helping young women in Southern SudanOnly 18, Doru Celina dropped out of school because of a domestic workload that left her with little time to study.

Doru, who lives in Kajo Keji, Southern Sudan, would help her mother sell condiments door-door or at the market. She also cooked and did the laundry for her siblings and cousins and collected firewood from the fields. Her house has no electricity and only one lamp, meaning she often had to go to a friend’s house to study. Her older sister dropped out of school, and when Doru followed suit after her first year of secondary school, her chances of returning appeared slim.

In 2008, however, Doru received much-needed support in the form a USAID-funded scholarship from the Gender Equity through Education (GEE) Program, implemented by Winrock International, allowing her to return to school. GEE provides assistance to vulnerable Southern Sudanese students and the secondary schools they attend. Scholarships cover a portion of school fees and allow for the purchase of needed school supplies. Additionally, small improvement grants provide schools with an opportunity to make basic repairs to educational facilities and improve the overall quality of the learning environment.

Now in her fourth year of secondary school at Charity Deliverance College, Doru is grateful for GEE’s support. “When I learned that I was at a school benefitting from the GEE scholarship program, I was very happy,” she says. “I knew that as a scholarship beneficiary, I would receive all the materials I needed to improve my study conditions.”

EIG Literacy Class Improves the Livelihoods of Women in Nepal
EIG literacy class improves the livelihoods of women in NepalAfter Dhan Kumari Gharti Magar’s family moved from their home in Surkhet, Nepal, and settled in the district of Rolpa, she took up traditional vegetable farming. But soon she found herself having trouble in her new occupation, and because of a lack of schooling, she struggled to learn even when she joined a class as part of the USAID-funded Education for Income Generation in Nepal (EIG) program.

Dhan Kumari wanted to quit.

But, the constant motivation from the staff of the Winrock-implemented EIG program kept her going until she completed the integrated entrepreneurial business literacy class. Now, not only can Dhan Kumari read and write, she has also used those skills to double her income as a vegetable producer. She learned about her rights as a citizen and what government services are available to her and, importantly, Dhan Kumari is able to read and understand books on vegetable production – allowing her to hone her farming techniques.

Once quiet and reserved, Dhan Kumari’s new communication skills have made her more outgoing and popular, while her increased income from farming has garnered respect in the community.

“Because of not going to school, I couldn’t read and write, but now I can even read books and pamphlets developed for vegetable production,” says Dhan Kumari. “First it was hard to work in the fields, but with strong motivation and technical backup, I can cultivate vegetables and generate income even in the absence of my husband.”           
 

       


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