Tag: Peace Corps

Obamas Launch “Let Girls Learn” Education Initiative


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama put their weight behind Let Girls Learn on Tuesday, an initiative to help girls around the world attend secondary school and complete their education.

“Let Girls Learn” began as a United States Agency for International Development effort last summer, and featured a video with celebrities like Alicia Keys and Shonda Rhimes. The goal was “to provide the public with meaningful ways to help all girls to get a quality education,” building on past work on girls’ education and empowerment around the world. Now, the Obama administration will enhance existing programs and expand efforts across the government and through partnerships with the private sector.

“A good education can lift you from the most humble circumstances into a life you never could have imagined,” the first lady said Tuesday when she and the president announced the plan. “I see myself in these girls. I see our daughters in these girls,” she said. “I want to use my time and platform as first lady and beyond to make a real impact.”

According to a FLOTUS tweet, women and girls make up 70 percent of those living in extreme poverty around the world, a fact that education can help change. Approximately 62 million girls around the world are not in school, explains a fact sheet published Tuesday by the White House, with half that number representing adolescent girls.

“These girls have diminished economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, early and forced marriage, and other forms of violence,” the fact sheet says. “Yet when a girl receives a quality education, she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family and her community. In addition, girls’ attendance in secondary school is correlated with later marriage, later childbearing, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, lower birth rates, and lower rates of HIV/AIDS.”

imagesThe first lady will work with the Peace Corps to develop community-based solutions and recruit and train volunteers. During the first year of the program, the Peace Corps will implement Let Girls Learn in 11 countries—Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda—and will expand to additional countries the following year.

The initiative will include programs focused on education, empowerment and leadership, health and nutrition, preventing gender-based violence, and preventing child, early and forced marriage.

Partnerships with the private sector include commitments from the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, CARE, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., PBS Learning Media and the U.N. Foundation’s Girl Up campaign.

To join the efforts please go to letgirlslearn.peacecorps.gov

article by Stav Ziv via newsweek.com

Young Business Owner Rahama Wright Using Shea Butter to Empower Women Around the World

Rahama Wright, founder, Shea Yeleen International (Image: Wright)

Many people don’t think about where shea butter comes from when they glide their favorite shea product onto their skin or hair, but Rahama Wright thinks about it every day. As founder of Shea Yeleen International, the socially conscious leader has made a business out of her passion for helping female shea butter producers.

Growing up in upstate New York, Wright’s Ghanaian heritage influenced her interest in African-related issues. After working and volunteering in West Africa and drawing on her mother’s stories as an immigrant in the United States, Wright committed herself to making the invisible women behind shea butter production visible to the world.

With patience and relentless diligence, she has grown her company—which initially started as a non-profit—with Shea Yeleen soaps, lip balms, and body butters now available in over 40 Whole Food stores in the United States.  In between meetings for the growing natural body care brand, Wright stopped to chat with BlackEnterprise.com about her career journey and commitment to women’s empowerment.

BlackEnterprise.com: What inspired you to use shea butter to empower women in West Africa?

Rahama Wright: It wasn’t until I did an internship at the American Embassy in Burkina Faso and started learning about income-generating activities for women in the Sahel region that I learned about shea butter. It struck me that this great product that was in so many mainstream haircare and skincare products came from this part of the world, yet there was a lack of visibility for the women producers in the marketplace.

After my internship, I served in the Peace Corps for two years in Mali, which was my first time living in a rural setting. Seeing a lot of the women in my community unable to send their kids to school or buy food or medicine made me want to do more than just say, ‘I served in the Peace Corps.’ So, I started researching income-generating activities for the women in my community, and shea butter came up again. When I returned to the U.S., I started Shea Yeleen to create a space that allowed market visibility for female shea producers.

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