In the world’s conflict zones, girls account for only 30% of refugees enrolled in school leaving an estimated 10 million girl refugees without access to education. Vital Voices provides ongoing, deep individualized investments to women like Dr. Hawa Abdi, who has devoted her life to changing this reality. She has cared for over 100,000 internally displaced persons on her family’s refugee camp, featuring both a school and a hospital, since the start of the Somali Civil War.
Despite the passage of legislation around the world to prevent sexual and domestic violence, laws continue to be ignored. Through the Justice Institutes on Gender-Based Violence, a public-private partnership with the State Department and the Avon Foundation, Vital Voices partners with women in our network to curb the tide of this epidemic. The Institutes provide intense, multi-disciplinary training for judges, prosecutors, local police and service providers to make the laws keep their promise and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.
Investing in young people – particularly girls – creates a ripple effect throughout society that benefits everyone. That’s why Vital Voices is committed to advancing the next generation of leaders. Through our partnership with ANN INC., the HERlead Fellowship has mentored, inspired and provided training for over 250 high school girls from across the United States who are affecting progress in their communities and beyond.
At Vital Voices, we know that empowering one woman can drive change in her community and beyond. Through our VV GROW Fellowship, a highly competitive, intensive one-year business accelerator in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation and FedEx, we help women entrepreneurs gain the skills and knowledge to expand their businesses and take their endeavors to the next level.
Samar Minallah Khan has been working to change those numbers for over ten years. In 2003, she created a documentary on swara, the practice of exchanging child brides to settle disputes in Pakistan. Samar’s documentary raised awareness and mobilized policymakers to abolish the custom. Vital Voices continues to make deep, customized investments in brave women like Samar, who has in turned paid it forward, mentoring young girls in our HERlead program.
It is estimated that between 20,000 and 35,000 Salvadorans belong to youth gangs, largely due to social exclusion which represents an alternative source of stability, identity and livelihood. Ariela Suster, a VV GROW alumna and 2017 Vital Voices Global Leadership Award Honoree, is disrupting the cycle of gang violence in El Salvador. Through SEQUENCE Collection, she employs men and women at risk of joining gangs and provides development programs leading to personal discovery and professional advancement.
One of the biggest obstacles for women in business is lack of access to training tailored to their needs. We seek to give women leaders that much-needed push towards success. Through our partnership with Bank of America, our Global Ambassadors Program connects women leaders at a tipping point in their professional and leadership paths with established women executives to accelerate their progress.
Vital Voices partners with women like Hafsat Abiola, a 2016 Global Leadership Award Honoree, who leads KIND, an organization that aims to strengthen women’s participation in government by advancing women’s leadership, removing barriers to women’s political participation and working to eliminate violence against women.
To combat sexual trafficking, Vital Voices advocates alongside women like Sunitha Krishnan. Sunitha founded Prajwala, an organization that rescues women and children from brothels while providing them with educational opportunities. At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. Sunitha has helped rescue over 12,000 of them, and counting, in India.