Educational Initiatives

Ordered Alphabetically by Organization

1. Organization: Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital
Country: Ethiopia
Solution: Hamlin College of Midwives
In Ethiopia, there are only 1,000 qualified midwives for a population of nearly 80 million, and unsupervised at-home births often lead to life-threatening complications. Hamlin College of Midwives is working to address this critical gap by training women to provide maternal health services across Ethiopia. The college provides promising students from five different regions with an intensive, four-year training program on labor and delivery, antenatal and postnatal care, family planning, HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, and information technology. Since its inception, Hamlin College of Midwives has graduated two classes of midwives, who will each work in rural villages for five years.  Their ultimate goal is to ensure that a skilled birth attendant is available to every pregnant woman in every rural community in Ethiopia.

2Organization: Akilah Institute for Women
Country: Rwanda
Solution: Hospitality Management and Entrepreneurship Degree Programs
The Akilah Institute for Women offers diploma programs in hospitality management and entrepreneurship for Rwandan women and girls. Though Rwanda has made inspiring progress in the past two decades, women in Rwanda continue to bear the brunt of poverty. Only 1% of Rwandans complete university and less than a third of university students are female. The Akilah Institute aims to empower young women to transform their lives by equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to find meaningful employment and launch ventures in the fastest growing sectors of the economy. The degree programs provide training in leadership, communications, community development, and business. In addition to the resulting economic benefits, this educational opportunity also improves women’s sense of autonomy, leading to greater gender equality within the family and community. By 2014, the organization is hoping to expand its work to reach women in Uganda and Burundi.

3Organization: Chanan Development Association (CDA)
Country: Pakistan
Solution: Chanan Theatre Group
The Chanan Development Association (CDA) is a youth-led organization that provides opportunities to youth and women in Pakistan through an interactive theatre program. Youth around the world face serious barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and information, and complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries. CDA strives to empower women through this program by encouraging community performances to spark much-needed dialogue. Breaking the long-imposed silence on these topics not only gives women a platform to express themselves, but also educates men and boys in the community. Through this program, community members are armed with the knowledge and tools to promote gender equality and prevent unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and harmful practices. To date, more than 1,000 plays have been staged throughout Pakistan on issues traditionally considered taboo, including sexuality, HIV/AIDS, family planning, and sexual education. This program is a striking example of how art translates into advocacy and creativity into communication. 

4Organization: Concern for Children and Women Empowerment (COFCAWE)
Country: Uganda
Solution: Gender Integrated Education Program on Reproductive Health and STDs/HIV/AIDS
Concern for Children and Women Empowerment (COFCAWE) is a community education project to improve the sexual and reproductive health among children ages 8 to 14 and their families. In Uganda, young people ages 10 to 24 comprise 33% of the population but nearly 50% of the country’s HIV/AIDS cases. Young women are particularly vulnerable as they are four times as likely to be infected as young men, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Through the Gender Integrated Education Program, COFCAWE conducts advocacy workshops, training sessions, and other programs to communities about child rights, gender equity, sexual health, and STDs and HIV/AIDS prevention. Highlighting these issues is a critical step toward identifying service gaps, priority areas, and future obstacles. The project engages local leaders, public authorities, and religious leaders to promote community involvement and works closely with the Uganda Media Women’s Association to reach a national audience through their radio program. This project is an example of creative advocacy outreach designed to give a voice to those who have long been silenced.

5. Organization: Grassroot Soccer
Country: South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
Solution: Skillz Street: Changing the Game for Girls
Grassroot Soccer’s Skillz Street initiative is a girls-targeted soccer league that encourages young women in South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to a protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. Skillz Street leverages the popularity of soccer to teach youth about HIV/AIDS prevention, sexual and reproductive health, and life skills through a series of interactive activities and discussions. During 2011, Grassroot Soccer ran 20 Skillz Street leagues at five sites, trained 121 coaches, and graduated 2,174 young women. Because of this success, Skillz Street is rapidly expanding, with a goal of reaching 1 million youth by 2014. Using the “international language” of sport, Skillz Street is reducing stigma, changing behavior, and empowering girls and their communities to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS. 

6. Organization: University of Medical Sciences and Technology
Country: Sudan
Solution: Innovative Participatory Health Educational Approach
In 2011, Innovative Participatory Health Educational Approach (IPHE) brought together a team of researchers, development workers, and local volunteers in Renk County, South Sudan to educate communities about women’s health through theater performances. Women in South Sudan face one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world; a young girl in South Sudan is three times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than to reach grade eight. Working together, the team identified pressing maternal and child health issues and developed a live music and theater program to educate those in the hardest-to-reach rural Renk County communities. Through the tradition of song, IPHE helped influence traditional views on maternal health and educate communities about lifesaving solutions for women and girls. 

7. Organization: Midwives for Haiti
Country: Haiti
Solution: Reducing Maternal Mortality in Haiti
Midwives for Haiti works to increase the number of women in Haiti who give birth with a skilled birth attendant (SBA), in partnership with the Ministry of Health, faith-based groups and others. In Haiti, just 26% of all deliveries are done by SBAs, which contributes to Haiti having one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere. Midwives for Haiti leverages volunteer midwives from North America and Europe, who donate time to train SBAs in Haiti and then fundraise back home to support the program. Each trained SBA meets the core abilities as defined by the World Health Organization, and the program works with women with various educational backgrounds. The organization promotes cultural sensitivity and awareness between volunteer educators and Haitian students and, equally important, addresses problems with access to SBAs, such as distance, transportation, and lack of information, which often prevent women from getting to health facilities on time. 

8. Organization: Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa (TESSA)
Country: Malawi/Sub-Saharan Africa
Solution: Access to Teaching Scholarship
The Malawi Access to Teaching Scholarship recruits women to become teachers in their own rural communities. This is direly needed, as the World Bank has estimated that the current supply of teachers in Malawi cannot meet rising educational demands. Female teachers are particularly scarce; of all teachers in the country, only 38% are female, and in rural areas this number is even smaller. The Access to Teaching Scholarship program addresses this gap by facilitating Learning Assistant roles in schools for scholarship recipients and assisting women to re-take secondary school exams, a requirement for admittance to teacher education programs. This innovative model of work-based learning addresses barriers to female continuing education and chronic teacher shortages. The scholarship offers rural women a chance to develop teaching skills, while also providing young girls with local role models. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child–but it takes just one dedicated female teacher to inspire a whole classroom full of young girls. 

9Organization: The Oruj Learning Center
Country: Afghanistan
Solution: Equal Access to Education in Afghanistan
The Oruj Learning Center is a grassroots organization dedicated to providing girls and women with equal access to all levels of education throughout Afghanistan. Afghan women, banned from school under the Taliban regime, are less likely than their male counterparts to receive education. According to UNICEF, 8% of girls and 32% of boys are now enrolled in primary school. The Oruj Learning Center, founded in 2002 by four Afghan refugee women, started with one class of 36 women in one village. Now, the organization runs six schools and has educated or trained more than 3,800 girls. It also established Afghanistan's first women’s community college and will inaugurate the nation's first four-year university for women in May 2012. Through this program, the center is changing perceptions of girls’ and women’s education and empowering them to fully participate in and equally contribute to Afghan society.

10. Organization: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Solution: Schools For Husbands
Schools for Husbands, launched by UNFPA in Niger, educates married men on reproductive health in order to improve access to maternal and newborn health services. The schools, which are endorsed by official authorities, traditional leaders, and religious leaders, bring together well-respected men in the community, twice a month, to discuss specific concerns centered on reproductive health. Male students work in conjunction with a women’s support group, with the aim of finding solutions that will improve maternal health in Niger; a country with one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates. Since the establishment of the schools, the use of contraceptives and number of visits to integrated health centers has increased and the number of births attended by skilled health workers, doubled. In total, 137 schools have been established in the Zinder region of southern Niger, with others scheduled to open in the western Maradi and Tahoua regions, in the coming month.


Organization: She’s The First
Country: U.S.
Solution: National Tie-Dye Cupcake Bake-Off
In 2011, She’s the First sponsored the Tie-Dye Cupcake Bake-Off across the U.S. to raise money to send young girls in developing countries to school. Led by student teams in the U.S., the bake-off raised $22,400 to sponsor more than 46 girls for another year of education. She’s the First believes that education is the key to helping girls find better jobs and enable them to break the cycle of poverty in their families and communities.

Organization: Ngong Road Children Association
Country: Kenya
Solution: Friends of Ngong Road
Friends of Ngong Road (FoNR) provides children with school tuitions, uniforms, books, regular meals, medical care and access to computers. For the past five years, FoNR has served children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS in the Dagoretti slums of Nairobi, Kenya. The program has seen great success: 100% of 8th graders have gone on to secondary or trade school. With this opportunity to access quality education, these children can end the cycle of continuing poverty.

Organization:  Maasai Girls Education Fund (MGEF)
Country: Kenya
Solution: MGEF Community Education Program: Elders & Mothers Workshop Series
The Maasai Girls Education Fund (MGEF) Community Education Program is a workshop series that engages both men and women in the fight for gender equality. The joint workshop structure consists of men and women learning at the same time but in separate groups, and then rejoining at the end of the day to recap the discussions. The workshops foster conversation and seek to show that school drop-out rates, teen pregnancy, early marriage, and FGM can be detrimental to the whole society—not just girls.

Organization: Action Kivu
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Solution: Actions pour le Bien être de la Femme et de l'Enfant au Kivu (ABFEK): The Kivu Sewing Workshop and the Educational Assistance Program
Action Kivu provides the Democratic Republic of Congo’s victims of violence with the opportunity to rebuild their lives on a foundation of hope, dignity and economic self-sustentence.  Their approach is spearheaded through two programs: The Kivu Sewing Workshop and the Educational Assistance Program. The Sewing Workshop is an eight month course that teaches students how to sew, knit, and embroider, with the goal that they will use their skills as an opportunity to earn money. The Educational Assistance Program partners with primary schools in DRC to fund the education of vulnerable children affected by ongoing conflict.

Organization: Legal Assistance Center
Country: Namibia
Solution: Comics for Gender Equality
The Legal Assistance Center, which fights for human rights throughout Namibia, launched The Gender Research and Advocacy Project to produce comics as an awaireness-raising tool. . Through simple language and interesting storylines, the comics explore serious issues in a manner that is easy to read and understand, including domestic abuse, marital rape, and gender equality. Comics are published in national newspapers to reach various audiences across Namibia, and they are also distributed to schools, hospitals, police stations, and civil society organizations.

Organization: Focal Point Global
Country: Namibia
Solution: U.S.-Namibia HIV Education Initiative
Focal Point Global aims to empower youth to tackle community issues through global education and innovative technology. The US-Namibia HIV Education Initiative was launched to link high school students in the U.S. and Namibia via Skype to discuss HIV and ways to combat the disease in their communities. The program will expand in 2012 through the use of e-learning and social networking tools to connect 40 additional youth, predominately girls, in the U.S. and Namibia to address HIV.

Organization: Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR)
Country: Burundi
Solution: Training of illiterate and semiliterate women ex-combatants in Burundi
The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR), operated by James Madison University, envisions a world in which people can build peaceful and prosperous futures free from the repercussions of conflict and disaster. In 2011, CISR trained 25 female veterans of Burundi’s civil war, many of whom were illiterate or only semi-literate, to become peer-support workers. The workshop focused on important peer counseling skills, such as how active listening, empathy, and understanding can facilitate the recovery processes resulting from traumatic events. At the end of the workshop, each woman had gained a range of peer support skills to take back to her community.

Organization: UNFPA Pakistan, Youth Action for Change (YAC) and Youth Dividend
Country: 99 Countries
Solution: Youth & the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) E-Course
Youth Dividend is committed to empowering and enabling youth and adolescents to influence international and national policy frameworks and be positive agents of change. "Youth and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)" is an online course designed for young people aged 18-30 who are actively involved in making a difference in their communities. The course educates youth on MDGs and empowers them with the knowledge to design and start small community projects designed around the MDG outcomes. Now in its fifth phase, the course has reached more than 120 participants from over 70 countries around the globe.

Organization: Thunderbird School of Global Management
Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Peru, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Palau, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan
Solution: Thunderbird for Good - Management Education Programs for Women in Developing Countries
Thunderbird for Good provides management education programs to women in developing countries to help them start their own companies. The courses teach aspirin