February 2010 eNewsletter: Empowered Women Making Changes in Their Lives and Communities


Dear Friends,

International Women's Day is close at hand (March 8). This day celebrates the progress women have made in their struggles for equality and development and also focuses on what remains to be done to ensure there is equality for all. The theme this year is "Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All."

The Hunger Project (THP) firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. Wherever we work, our programs aim to support women, build their capacity and ensure their voice is heard and influence felt, both in their own communities and more widely. Inspirational highlights of the significant changes that women empowered by THP are making in their lives and in their communities are featured below.

This will be the last THP Global Update coming under my signature, as I will be leaving THP, effective end of this month. I firmly believe there can be no more important need in today's world than that expressed in THP's mission: to empower women and men to end their own hunger and poverty. During my time here, I have been affirmed and inspired in this belief in my visits to THP's programs where the courage, determination and resilience of our village partners, particularly the women, to lead self-reliant lives, free from hunger and poverty, are matched only by the commitment, skills and creativity of THP staff.

Your support of THP is critical in enabling the organization to introduce cutting-edge programs that empower women to build lives of dignity and choice. Your commitment to THP and its unique approach in working in true and close partnership with grassroots villagers, supporting their struggle to end their own hunger and poverty, remains both integral and indispensable in enabling THP to remain at the cutting edge in all its programs.

While the executive search for the new CEO is carried out, the Office of the Global Board Chair is working closely with the Leadership Team in THP's Global Office to ensure a smooth transition period.

You will, of course, continue to receive Global Updates from THP - please be sure to look out for next month's Global Update to come from news@thp.org.

With warmest wishes,
Jill Lester
President and CEO

Iganga Rural Bank Commended in Uganda

THP's Iganga Epicenter Rural Bank was recently named the "Best SACCO of 2009" (SACCO is an acronym for Savings and Credit Cooperative) by the District Commercial Officer of the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry in Uganda. The all-women board of directors of the Iganga Rural Bank credit their success to the training they received from THP. Through the training, they gained a deep understanding of their responsibilities and developed the capacity to manage the Rural Bank operations.

At the end of 2009, the Iganga Rural Bank had approximately 1,000 active borrowers, 1,300 savers and capital of approximately US$200,000. Read more about THP's Microfinance Program.

Forum Raises Awareness about Violence Against Girls in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, of which THP is a part, organized a human chain earlier this month to bring awareness to the suicide of a 14-year-old girl, named Pinky, who recently committed suicide as a result of incessant teasing and harassment. More than 20 organizations participated in this event. The activists demanded a trial for the culprits responsible. See details in the Bangladeshi newspaper, the Daily Star. Learn more about THP's National Girl Child Day in Bangladesh.

THP-India Featured on Television Broadcast

Doordrashan Jaipur, the state-owned television channel in Rajasthan, broadcast a twenty-minute show on THP-India's work to strengthen the leadership of women elected to panchayats (village councils) in the state. The show highlighted THP's SWEEP pre-election campaign (Strengthening Women's Empowerment in the Electoral Process) in 1,071 village panchayats for the elections taking place this month. Read more about our work in India.

Men Overcome Age-old Stereotypes in Mexico

THP-Mexico's women partners in the state of Zacatecas who recently launched a chicken farm as an income-generating business successfully overcame two significant obstacles: lack of access to both land and electricity.

Traditionally, men in their community are reluctant to allow women to use the land. After garnering the courage to approach the all-male village assembly, the women were successful in convincing all but five of the 60 men to grant them the land.

When they approached the municipal president to request electricity, he was skeptical and demanded proof that they were organized and serious. They convinced him by sharing attendance lists from THP's Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops and minutes from THP meetings. As a result, the women obtained not only electricity, but also construction materials from the municipality. Learn more about our work in Mexico.

In Other News: THP Investors on Tour with New Book, Power of Half, amid Media Frenzy!

Many of you know by now the story of the Salwen family, who sold their home and invested half the proceeds in THP. Kevin Salwen and his daughter, Hannah, have written about this decision-making process and its affect on their family in their new book, Power of Half (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). They've just finished the first leg of their book tour around the country.

The Salwen family's story has inspired so many people - and the media is catching on. They have been featured on television programs like ABC World News, CBS Sunday Morning News, The View and in publications such as People, Parade Magazine, Boston Globe and an article by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.

See THP in the News for some highlights of the coverage featuring THP. Learn more about the book. Visit the book's website.

Find Out What's New at THP

Join this call and learn what actions you can take now!

Tuesday, March 9
8:00 p.m. (EST)

Featured speakers:

John Coonrod, Vice President, Strategy and Advocacy

Rita Sarin, Country Director, THP-India

Conference call number: (212) 798-0808
Access code: 6490-4371#

RSVP: Joanna Ryder at jrr@thp.org or 310-376-6814

Be sure you are a member of our online community!

Thousands of people are already our fans on Facebook and in 2009, we raised more than $13,000 through our Facebook campaigns.

Get all the latest THP news:

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Making a Difference

Srimoti Diti Adash lives in a rural area in northwest Bangladesh. After she took a THP animator training in community-led sanitation, she became committed to mobilizing her community to build low-cost sanitary latrines and install tube wells for increased access to safe drinking water. Srimoti holds courtyard meetings and leads workshops to educate villagers on better hygiene practices.

Learn more about Srimoti.

Meet more of our partners.

Quote of the Month

"I learned that there are persons hungry to grow. I learned that I can make the difference if I am up to it, that I must not wait for someone else to give me the things I want but I must do it for myself. I feel eager to fight for what I want to do and achieve [and] to do my part to change the world and my surroundings."

-Marisol Rojas, THP-Mexico volunteer