Desirée designed the Hero Girls project as an Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University in the 2017 program. This program focuses on critical humanitarian issues around the globe. Through the Advanced Leadership Initiative, Harvard is seeking to tap the experience of a socially conscious generation of leaders and help redirect and broaden their skills to fill critical leadership gaps in solving major social issues. Starting in January 2009, a select group of Fellows from diverse sectors with a track record of achievement and accomplishment have come to Harvard to transition from their primary income-earning careers and prepare for their next phase plan as change agents for society.
WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?
- • Women in marginalized communities are married too young and everyday women die from complications during pregnancy
- • Girls are removed from secondary schooling opportunities to become wives, homemakers, or labour for the family.
- • Women are uneducated in child care and personal care causing high infant and maternal mortality rates
- • Gender Inequalities a burden to communities and lives, impeding a way to more prosperity for the community and families
- • Skilled teachers and resources are scarce
- • Community leaders and male influencers are unsupportive
HOW DO WE KNOW IT’S A PROBLEM?
- • The cycle of poverty from generation to generation continues
- • 1 in 3 girls are married before the age of 18 in low income developing countries
- • Over 100 million girls and women in low income developing countries cannot read all or part of a sentence
- • Surveys from several countries analyzing girl’s and women’s issues provide data that they are treated unfairly, abused, are liken to property, removed from the school to take of children or work for the family, raped, degraded and prevented from bettering themselves
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
- • Girls and women’s self-efficacy has proven to uplift and entire community and improve the prosperity of that community
- • Girls who are educated in all areas of life skills will be able to manage their own health and the health of their children and families
- • Women who are educated and are able to join the workforce contribute 90% of their earning back into their families and communities (men contribute 40%)
- • Breaking the cycle of poverty means accepting women as part of the solution
What needs to be done
• A custom community solution specific to the needs and requirements of each community
• Support and involvement by the community leaders, male influencers, religious and cultural influencers in the community
• A framework that allows home grown, grass roots solutions, implemented and managed by the local community
• Support and skilled resources to help create sustainable and scalable solutions
• Stakeholders, both local and otherwise, need to have a committed focus on continued efforts to these projects
Hero Girls Framework
• Create a B-Corp that allows foundations, corporations and individuals to contribute to this important cause
• Partner with existing ‘on the ground’ stakeholders who understand the landscape and are respected in the community
• Create an easy method for contributions and reporting of metrics, outcomes and impacts
• Utilize existing relationships and build around regulations that are already in place, engaging the local market to contribute to the cause
• Generate funding from the top of pyramid and create business via bottom of pyramid models establishing sustainable programs
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