No doubt, today is an historic day. Regardless of what side of the aisle you might be on, this day is traditionally one of hope and promise in the United States–and with the inauguration of the nation's first black, female and Indian Vice President, this year's ceremonies are especially notable.
Even aside from this milestone, we have a great deal to be hopeful about. As much as it has been vilified as the "worst year ever," 2020 was actually a breakthrough year for one of the most pressing complex of issues facing America: diversity and inclusion.
From NASCAR to Bumble, companies took real steps last year to address their positions on racial justice and inclusion for all people. Some ha...Read more
Posted on 01/20/2021 at 04:58 PM
As we hang on for the results of the national election, in California there has already been one major milestone achieved: for the first time in over 150 years, the entire L.A. County Board of Supervisors is now female. In a county that was led by five men for decades–referred to as the "five little kings"–this is truly a momentous step forward.
It's especially important because as the country's largest, L.A. County controls the largest budget of any local governmental body: $35 billion. These five women now oversee the largest jail system in the U.S., as well as the country's largest public health system. And they've got some serious backstories, so they appear to be more than up...Read more
Posted on 11/05/2020 at 02:50 PM
The Beirut Port explosion of August 4th was a tragedy of staggering proportions. At least 200 deaths, 6,500 injuries and $15 billion in property damage have been attributed to the disaster, and up to 300,000 people were left homeless.
Thankfully, entrepreneurs and social activists came out in droves following the event; in fact, there are now more than 7,000 NGOs in Lebanon, the highest per capita anywhere in the world.
Michelle Mouracade is the Lebanon country director for Alfanar, a venture philanthropy organization supporting social enterprises in the Middle East. Fully eighty-three percent of the orgs that Alfanar supports are woman-led, and Mouracade thinks Lebanon is poised to become a g...Read more
Posted on 10/14/2020 at 12:45 PM
As I write this, approximately 800 million women and girls in the world are menstruating. Despite the commonness of the occurrence, however, many are still forced to do so clandestinely, and in shame. Sadly, menstruation is in some ways the last great taboo, and that's no hyperbole: indeed, nearly half of women have no foreknowledge of the condition before their first menstrual cycle.
Thankfully, a groundbreaking new documentary is working to change all that: produced and directed by a predominantly female team, Pandora’s Box may be the first feature-length documentary film to focus on menstrual rights. The film zeroes in on the introduction of reusable pads, and puts a light on the wor...Read more
Posted on 01/24/2020 at 11:03 AM
As a volunteer working with the Peace Corps in Rwanda, Markey Culver typically ate just one meal per day, common practice among Rwandan families. One day, Culver did something that seemed simple at the time--but it would change her life, and the lives of scores of East Africans.
To increase the calories she was taking in, Culver baked a loaf of yeast bread.
When her baking caught the interest of local women, Culver began to teach those in her community to bake bread for themselves. And when the women began giving the bread to their children, she began to realize the potential of her work to impact malnutrition. Culver was inspired, and when the women began to sell the bread at local markets, s...Read more
Posted on 12/31/2019 at 10:32 AM
On October 11, the world observed the International Day of Girls: a day dedicated to raising awareness of the serious issues facing the world's 1.1 billion girls, and promoting their empowerment. It's an enormous issue–one that requires our attention far beyond that single day.
Each year, about 246 million children are harassed and abused either at or on their way to school. Girls are disproportionately affected, a reality that curbs their academic lives and makes it more likely they will drop out. But things are slowly changing: fully twenty-five million child marriages have been prevented, just in the past ten years.
These two things–ending child marriage, and working to make sur...Read more
Posted on 12/09/2019 at 09:47 AM
When Cheryl Gray initially heard about the new program, she thought it must be too good to be true. A nonprofit organization was planning on awarding 20 African American single mothers $1,000 each month for a year, provided they lived in public housing. The women would be allowed to use the money however they wanted.
Gray immediately signed on to the program, called Springboard to Opportunities, planning on using the money to pay for graduate school. But she quickly learned it wasn't quite that simple. Like the other women in the program, Gray had little to no experience with managing savings. She could stretch a minimum-wage paycheck, but had little experience with discretionary income.
It se...Read more
Posted on 09/25/2019 at 10:31 AM
Here at Billions Rising we have always emphasized self-reliance, and solutions that empower those in poverty to better themselves and their communities. One organization that is doing great work in this area is Street Business School, a non-profit that works with other orgs to provide next-level entrepreneurial training for women.
For the past fifteen years, SBS has worked to help women become small-scale entrepreneurs--and their track record is remarkable. On average, women who graduate from the SBS program go from making $1.35/day to $4.19/day two years after graduation. Even better, 89% of their graduates have businesses of their own.
The organization has tested and evaluated their methods ...Read more
Posted on 08/18/2019 at 10:56 AM
When she was just a second grader, Nujoud Merancy visited an air traffic control tower on a school field trip, an event that kindled the young girl's interest in aerospace; later, she was inspired by the Apollo missions. And incredibly, today she is working on an enormous mission of her own: sending the first woman to the moon by 2024.
Along with her colleagues Anne McClain and Holly Ridings, Merancy is part of a new vanguard of females in the aerospace industry. She serves as Exploration Mission Planning and Analysis lead for the Orion spacecraft that will execute the 2024 mission, and Ridings is NASA's first female Chief Flight Director; McClain just came back from a six-month assignment on...Read more
Posted on 08/09/2019 at 01:49 PM
When Vandana Shiva was growing up in the wilds of the Himalaya, her father was a forest conservator, her mother a farmer. Her close relationship with nature was set early on, and her involvement with Chipko, a nonviolent org that emerged in response to large-scale deforestation in the region, soon put Shiva on the path to a career in ecology.
Today, at 66, Shiva has founded a biodiversity farm, Navdanya, as well as Earth University, a learning center that teaches students principles of biodiversity and what Shiva calls "Earth Democracy." Her commitment to farmers' rights and poison-free farming has earned Shiva a slew of awards and accolades, and she has been called an environmental hero by n...Read more
Posted on 05/27/2019 at 10:24 AM