Posts Tagged ‘WOMEN’

Featured Organization: Women Thrive Worldwide

Saturday, November 13th, 2010








 Teach a woman to fish and everyone eats.   … women are the key to fighting global poverty


Women Thrive Worldwide is an award winning advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. that, for the last twelve years, has been tirelessly fighting to improve the lives of women in developing countries.   It's overarching goal is no less than to eradicate global poverty, and women are the centerpiece and the key to surmounting this monumental challenge.   Why women?  Women are traditionally the caretakers – the lifeblood of their homes and their communities.   When women are lifted out of poverty  and given greater economic opportunities, the benefits for a healthier, more productive life, which include food, shelter, education and healthcare, accrue not only to their families but to the entire community for the long term. “When you teach a woman to fish, everyone eats” is the oft repeated phrase which is the touchstone of the campaign. 




Led by dynamic and impassioned co-founder and President, Ritu Sharma, Women Thrive Worldwide has, since its inception in 1998 (known then, as Women’s Edge Coalition), worked with a network of policy strategists and volunteers and consulted with hundreds of women’s organizations on the ground in developing countries to glean the information that been instrumental in shaping U.S. policy — policy that will have the greatest impact on reducing poverty by empowering women.  The five primary policy foci are in Farming and Agriculture, Foreign Aid Assistance Reform, Economic Opportunity, Violence Against Women and International Trade.


A detailed description of the five policy areas as well as the organization’s encyclopedic accomplishments can be viewed here.




Women Thrive Worldwide  began in 1998 as Women’s Edge Coalition, a nonpartisan group of NGOs, which Sharma co-founded to advocate for human rights and economic policies to help women through the globe end the cycle of poverty for themselves, for their communities, and for their nations.


In addition to shepherding the passage of landmark legislation to help women living in the world’s the poorest countries (1) ,Women’s Edge Coalition, in 2005, joined with Amnesty International USA, members of the U.S. Senate, and numerous other NGOs to draft the ground breaking International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), which was  introduced initially in 2007, by Senators Joe Biden and Richard Lugar.   This early incarnation of the bill provided for unprecedented support to survivors of sexual violence around the globe.   Reintroduced later by Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer, among others, as Senate Bill 2982 (H.R. 4594), the International Violence Against Women Act of 2010, in its current rendition, makes the eradication of violence against women a diplomatic priority that extends across foreign policy and assistance programs. 


Today, IVAWA is the central focus of a national campaign led by Women Thrive Worldwide and it’s collaborators, Amnesty International USA and the Family Violence Protection Fund to end violence against women worldwide. IVAWA has widespread bipartisan support, and the hope is that it will pass in this November’s lame duck session. 


My commitment, my work, is to make sure that when I have granddaughters,

they …..don't have to think  for a moment about being violated.



In 2008, Women’s Edge Coalition became Women Thrive Worldwide, and continues to represent the 50 plus organizations and 40,000 individuals united in the belief that empowerment of women is the key to combating world poverty.







Ritu Sharma’s inspiration for Women’s Edge Coalition and Women Thrive Worldwide was born of poverty and violence; her compelling account of how she moved from a painful childhood to become a renowned advocate for women in developing countries, is a story of extraordinary strength, courage, determination and hope, that resonates with women and men all over the world. 


Sharma has been heralded as a leading voice on women's issues as they relate to U.S. foreign policy .   In this Question and Answer session with the Action Now+Network, Sharma describes her experience, her inspiration, her desire from a very young age to help women and their communities around the world lift themselves beyond their individual and economic barriers.


ACTION NOW+NETWORK:  What inspired you to create this organization?

RITU SHARMA  I was born in Arizona to a family of immigrants from India; both my parents came from pretty poor backgrounds.  My family left behind generations of violence and poverty in Punjab, India to build a new life in the United States. 


Both of my parent's families have witnessed some incredible violence, especially my father's family. His father was an alcoholic and a very violent man. My dad has told me some really heralding stories about what happened to his sisters and his cousins. My Dad lost his mother when he was just a year old. She was married when she was fifteen and she had a baby every year until she was about twenty-one. When she was pregnant with her seventh child, she had a back street abortion and died within 24 hours. My Mom's Mom was an educated woman, which was very unusual in the 1930's in India. She had a masters degree and suffered from a very deep depression.  When my Mom was about seven years old, my grandmother committed suicide by pouring kerosene on herself and lit herself on fire. My Mom witnessed this event, and it had a huge impact on her life. From either side of my family there was a very intense history around women and what happened to them. 


I myself became a violence survivor at a very young age.


I grew up just knowing that I wanted to do something about this to make a difference. My family’s legacy and my first-hand experience of the injustices suffered by women, combined with my strong belief that American citizens must ensure that the U.S. acts positively in the world, led me to create Women Thrive Worldwide in 1998. 


While in high school, I had the opportunity to go to an international school in Wales called the United World College of the Atlantic. There I interacted with students from all over the world and had the chance to see how they viewed Americans, both positively and negatively. I came to understand that our country had a huge impact on the rest of the world – in ways that other countries don’t. That was eye opening. After I came back home to the states in Washington D.C. to study at the university, I just fell in love with Washington and politics and the whole intrigue of the place. Through internships, work experiences and friendships, I realized this is a place where people are here to change what our government does and they're successful at it. I knew this is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.


A.N.N.   How does Women Thrive define its current mission? 

R.S.: At Women Thrive, we believe that giving women greater economic opportunity will lift  families, communities, and countries out of poverty.  When women are healthy and free from violence they are better able to take care of their family and household, and they have a positive impact on their communities.

 Our mission is to provide solutions that will help millions of women around the world to escape poverty,  by advocating for changes in U.S. policy that will have the greatest impact on them.


A.N.N. How would you summarize your own work with the organization?

R.S. :  Since the creation of Women Thrive Worldwide, I have taken a leadership role in advocating for U.S. policies that foster economic opportunities, and defend the rights of women in developing countries, guiding the organization in its mission.  Thanks to our advocacy, gender and women are seen more and more as central to the success of U.S. global development efforts.  

 One of my most important efforts is the attempt to push the International Violence against Women’s Act (I-VAWA) through Congress, which aims to promote women's economic opportunity, address violence against women, and work to change public attitudes. It took 4-5 years to develop the bill. Women Thrive, together with Amnesty International USA and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, worked closely with members of Congress and attracted hundreds of NGO’s, UN agencies and women’s groups around the globe to provide consultancy in drafting it.  I-VAWA was introduced to the House and the Senate in February of this year.


A.N.N.What makes Women Thrive different from other advocacy organizations out there?

R.S.:  At Women Thrive, we believe that while direct assistance programs for the poor are very important, positive policy change is crucial for long term change.

If U.S. assistance and trade policies do not address the unique barriers that women face, they will not reach the women who need them and will be only half as effective as they could be.  This is what we do.  By prioritizing women in programs, the U.S. is already running – often by changing a few words in a piece of legislation – we try to spread opportunity to millions of women and families living in poverty, and help end poverty for good.

There are lots of service providers running programs on the ground.  We're the only ones focusing in D.C. full time on advocacy.  It's complementary to helping one woman at a time….we try to shape policies and the debate around the issues that impact millions of women.  


A.N.N. Tell me about the professional staff at your organization.

R.S.: Women Thrive has a team of 17 talented people represented by policy and government affairs professionals, global trade and agricultural policy specialists, global advancement, organizational advancement, and communications and outreach professionals – all very dedicated to our mission. 


A.N.N.: What do people tell you they admire most about your organization?

 R.S.:  We’re a small organization, but get big results.  We influence some very big players and very big amounts of money.


A.N.N.: The concept of global poverty can be very abstract.  How do you get people to feel an emotional connection to your work?

 Through personal stories.  Every year I travel to a country in Africa, Central or South America and I walk in the shoes of a local woman and farmer who lives on less than a dollar a day. This is called “A Dollar a Day Diary”, and is published on our website shortly after my return from the country. This is our way to bring awareness of the poverty and living conditions of women in developing countries, and to convey a powerful message that justifies all of our efforts. There isn’t a more compelling and emotional way to explain why we do what we do.


A.N.N.: What challenges does Women Thrive Worldwide face?

R.S. The biggest challenge we are facing is the current system that governs the way we deliver our aid around the world.  It was developed in 1961 and the world was a lot different back then.  This was before climate change and the Aids epidemic, both of which transcent borders.  Our world is a much smaller place than it was in 1961.   A lot of our aid is designed in government buildings in Washington D.C. rather than in the communities that we are trying to help around the world.  There are many good people that work in government aid, but their hands are tied; they don't have the flexibility to go to these communities and ask people what  they need.  We are currently working with other organizations to modernize this whole system to make the system more responsive to the people we are trying to help.  


A.N.N. : What are the most important things you want the public to know about your organization?

We’re small and impactful.   We're strategic.  We get results.  We're the only ones doing what we do.  We're team players: our strategy is based on a partnership model.


A.N.N.: How can the public get involved in your mission?

R.S.   The public can take action in different ways:

First they should sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive updates, actions, and the latest news on how they can help.   Additionally, they can: 

  1. Make an online donation.  
  2. Tell their representative to support the GROWTH Act, an innovative bill that would give women the economic tools to lift themselves out of poverty.  
  3. Sign the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) online petition.
  4.  Shop the Cause.  Supporters can shop the products such as jewelry and handicrafts, made by three trade partners who live up to our values – all products are made by women in poor countries and all sales directly benefit them. Ten percent of the purchases support Women Thrive’s advocacy work on behalf of these women.
  5.  Become a delegate – Women Thrive frequently organizes in-state delegations and other events. 
  6. Organize friends and host an event. Please contact Lorelle Curry, U.S. Outreach Manager, at 


 A.N.N. Is there work available for volunteers? 

R.S.  We do have interns in our team who support the different departments. Women Thrive Worldwide also welcomes volunteers on a case-by-case basis.   For example,  September 28 was the premiere of the documentary “Tapestries of Hope”, which Women Thrive sponsored. Due to the efforts of our volunteers, who collected petition signatures from the audience, Women Thrive was able to expand its supporter network, and more specifically, to gain additional support for the passing on I-VAWA.


A.N.N.  Who are some of your most well-known supporters?

R.S. Ashley Judd and  Kathy Najimy. Corporate CEOs like Joe Keefe (Pax World Funds).


A.N.N.  Do you have any specific campaigns or promotions upcoming?

 Yes, “Dollar a Day” campaign for 2010.  (See video clip above).   We are committed to working for the passage of IVAWA.  We are planning a Hunger Campaign the week before Thanksgiving.

A.N.N.  What kind of budget do you have compared to what you need?

R.S.  We have a lot of impact given our budget.  While we don’t want to grow for the sake of growing, we could easily be twice the size we are now just to cover the opportunities we have now. 


A.N.N. What would you do if you had more money?

R.S.  Invest in women’s associations in poor communities



(1) Access for Afghan Women Act, the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act, the GAINS for Women and Girls Act, the Trade Impact Review and the GROWTH Act

Huffington Post articles written by Ritu Sharma




Maureen McGregor

Director of Communications

Women Thrive Worldwide
1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20009
Tel: 202-884-8396
Fax: 202-884-8366

Facebook Page: Women Thrive Worldwide

Women Thrive Worldwide You Tube Channel

[1] Access for Afghan Women Act, the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act, the GAINS for Women and Girls Act, the Trade Impact Review and the GROWTH Act


Did you like this? Share it:


Thursday, July 22nd, 2010










By Belinda Geiger


Reposted from Bag Lady Chat






It is dark, and quiet. My girls are asleep. The loudest sound in the room is the beating of my heart. The blood is rushing down my arms to my fingertips.  The sounds of my life are deafening.  The aloneness is palpable.  I wish for companionship.  Again, I tell myself that at least no one will hit me tonight.  It is supposed to make me feel less lonely. 


I should have gone to the library and taken out a dozen books; piled them all around me and read a few words out of each one while I was quietly going insane.  I should have gone to the Pound and taken home a dog, or a cat.


 Unfortunately, I found solace in extremely short “relationships” which had no basis in reality.  I wanted companionship, someone to talk to.  Today I would say:  Get a Dog.  Recently Single Women and The Men who hunt for them are truly bad company.  I  did not like being alone.  (Alone is) something we should all become used to.  Accept. Welcome.  Being alone is safe.


That was then.  I bought cheap spiral bound tablets to write sappy poetry in.  Today I have a blog site.  Then, I was grateful for lonely, peaceful evenings.  Today I have a husband who loves me, grown-up kids I’m actually friends with, and, of course, my wonderful, faithful dogs. We have wild birds who flock to the bird feeders in the back yard, a riot of colorful flowers and trees, crimson sunsets, and a very nice home (that could stand a little more cleaning).


So what? Am I bragging? No. YOU can have anything you want. Yes you can. You do NOT have to be bullied and punched and cry behind closed doors the rest of your life.  All it takes is that one moment of clarity when you realize you CAN DO IT!


I love the old Paul Simon song: There Must Be 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. 

Here is the chorus:


            You just slip out the back, Jack

Make a new plan, Stan

You don’t need to be coy, Roy

Just get yourself free 

Hop on the bus, Gus

You don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee

And get yourself free


We slipped out the back, with two paper grocery  bags and without even a toothbrush between us.  Yes, I really am a bag lady.   


It was fully ten years later that I realized that in order to “attract” a man who would be kind to me, I had to be kind to myself.  To appreciate, approve of and maybe even love myself a little.  I didn’t even know where to start. 


So, I started with my job.  Here I was, ten years a “housewife”, with out-dated experience, and three years later I had a good job, with benefits. I was, truly, proud of myself, finally.  I had worked hard for this.  I drove to downtown LA for six or seven years.  Every day, wondering if this would be the day that a semi would take me out and leave my girls alone. . . Paying bills, keeping the lights on, and sleeping on the floor.    


I made a PLAN.  It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was all I was capable of.  Understand, I had been battered for ten years before I even knew that “Womens’ Shelters”existed.  Several hurried “you’ve got the wrong number” conversations with my cousin were all I had to go on.  It was complete news to me.  Wow! There was A Place ToGo!!!  We might actually be able to escape!


So, when the moment arrived, (a moment when I knew absolutely that he would be gone at least an hour) we began our escape.  The only real preparation I had made was to tear out the pages in our address book for the members of my family.  I left baby photos, my dad’s family Bible, my mother’s hand crocheted bedspread. I should have been better prepared. But I simply was not capable. I will never have those things again. But they are just things. They are not my children.


We simply walked out the back door, went out of the gate, and down the street to a house occupied by a woman I had a nodding acquaintance with.  I didn’t even know her name.  We knocked on the door at 8:00 a.m. and asked to come in and make a call to the local shelter. To my amazement, she let us in.  Within a few minutes there was a car in front of the house, they had come to take us to the shelter!  Oh my goodness, it was for real!  Once there, I called my brother and asked him to pick us up.  I was afraid to stay in the same town, even hidden like we were.  My brother picked us up around midnight, and took us to my cousin’s house, where we stayed until another local shelter had room for us.


So, was it easy? Nah.  I had to learn how to take the bus to get where I needed to go. Okay I had taken a school bus in Junior High but this was different.  I was terrified.  I walked to the Laundromat with heavy baskets.  I had to learn to get along with about 50 other women in the shelter.  I had “chores” to do every day.  I had to provide  meals for my girls out of the public assistance money we were getting.  (read: Welfare.)  I was expected to put my girls in school.  They were afraid of being “kidnapped” and I was afraid of everything.  It was NOT EASY. Please, don’t expect it to be easy.  Expect that you will live through it and come out on the other end a better person. It was humiliating and terrible and frightening. But we got through it. And you can too.


My best advice?  Have the number of a shelter memorized. Do away with anything that he can use to track you down or hurt your family. Take as little as possible. Escape is just that. It is not a vacation.


And, as soon as you can, get a dog. 















Did you like this? Share it:


Friday, April 16th, 2010










Jewish World Watch was founded in 2004 by the legendary Encino, California, based Rabbi Harold Schulweis and former environmental law attorney turned community activist, Janice Kamenir-Reznik.  With a mission to honor the promise made following the Holocaust, that "Never Again" would we stand silent in the face of genocide, President Janice Kamenir-Reznik and Executive Director Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug, have positioned Jewish World Watch as a major anti-genocide presence, both on the west coast and nationally.

DARFUR: The genocide in Darfur has been the first order of business, and the guiding Biblical mandate, "Do not stand idly by" has defined the culture and life of the organization.  With a three-pronged approach of education, advocacy and refugee relief, Kamenir-Reznik, Schwartz-Getzug and a dedicated five person staff have built a national reputation for quality and results.  With more than sixty synagogues as a base of support, Jewish World Watch staff works with hundreds of organizations throughout the country to implement their programs, which include:  

o curricula development in the middle and high schools,

o community mobilization through a three-county Walk to End Genocide and a multitude of other activities,

o extensive speaking engagements through an active Speakers Bureau,

o advocacy at high levels of government, and

o funding of acclaimed relief programs for the survivors of genocide and other egregious human rights abuses.

In the last six years, Jewish World Watch has sponsored a major California divestment campaign,and mobilized communities across the country to raise millions of dollars for their nationally acclaimed refugee programs that include:

o The Solar Cooker Project, which protects and empowers the women and girls of the refugee camps by  reducing the number of trips taken out of the camps in search of firewood;

o water reclamation vegetable gardens;

o the Backpack project, which brought school and hygenic supplies to the children of the camps; and more recently,

o the  Dream Team Sister Schools project, sponsored by LA Clippers star, Baron Davis.





The Democractic Republic of Congo (DRC): A second campaign focus, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was launched in May, 2010.   The DRC is known as the worst place on earth to be a woman or a child.   Through advocacy at high levels of government and through survivor relief programs,  Jewish World Watch programs will protect and empower the women and girls who are constantly at high risk for brutal attack, as well as locate and reclaim the children who have been kidnapped and enslaved by rebel groups caught in the grip of a deadly war over conflict minerals.

Jewish World Watch has recently funded the very first Burn Center in Eastern Congo, which serves the survivors of deadly rebel attacks in which whole villages are burned as a method of intimidation and extermination.  As part of this program Israeli physicians are flown to Congo to train the Congolese physicians in the latest techniques in burn medicine.

On the Ground in Congo Trailer from Jewish World Watch on Vimeo.



Help Jewish World Watch in their fight against genocide

and egregious human rights abuses.


For more information on the Jewish Jewish Watch Solar Cooker Project

contact Rachel Andres, at

For  information on all  the Jewish World Watch Relief Campaigns,


STUDENTS AND TEACHERS: Be sure you ask about our Activist Certification Training (ACT) Program, in which you can work with your school to help Jewish World Watch combat genocide in Darfur and Congo.



Did you like this? Share it:


Thursday, March 25th, 2010


Did you like this? Share it: