Helping to solve some of the biggest issues facing our time using outside-the-box, business-driven strategies.
\\ CURRENT PROJECTS
Researching the linkages/commonalities between for-profit & non-profit ventures with the goal of positioning them to work together more effectively through partnerships.
Incubating a finance model (focusing on idle capital) to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in underserved nations – Arrow Global Capital.
#bizsogood14 contest to contribute to the conversation about business as a tool for social impact.
All week, we’ve celebrated International Women’s Day early (it’s tomorrow, March 8!) by highlighting a few of our favorite inspiring women here on the blog. First was the stunning Lupita Nyong’o, then the powerful stories of the nine young women across the globe highlighted in the film Girl Rising; next came businesswoman and advocate for the poor Jacqueline Novogratz and, finally, the fantastically fierce Malala Yousafzai.
But today is a little bit different. Today, I want to talk about the stories we’ve yet to learn, from the women and girls who’ve yet to be given a voice.
Personally, the women that inspire me most are those who have yet to be liberated from modern day slavery. Today’s best estimate for the number of people in the bondage of slavery today is around 27 million (quite possibly more than that); experts also estimate more than half (55-60%) are female. That means that at least 15 million women and girls across the globe are afflicted by the most severe form of censorship imaginable: they lack a voice because they lack freedom.
This week, as we celebrate women around the world, let us also seek out ways to honor those who have no reason to celebrate themselves, to join the fight to end slavery worldwide, and to help give voice to the voiceless.
There are many ways to get involved in the fight against human trafficking with reputable organizations both in the U.S. and abroad. Look to sources like Free the Slaves, International Justice Mission, the Polaris Project, and the Not for Sale Campaign to start. Together, we can all make a difference — and that’s something to truly celebrate.
Chances are you’ve heard of a young woman named Malala Yousafzai — in fact, you probably know her by her first name alone. In a world where popular culture bows down to one-name wonders like Beyoncé, Gaga, and Britney, how has a young girl from Pakistan achieved a similar one-name status? Certainly her contributions have been a little more low-key than pop stars’ surprise albums, controversial performances, and wardrobe malfunctions… or have they?
If you want to see a young woman really shaking things up today, look no further than Malala.
Maybe you’ve heard Malala was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize… twice. (She was nominated again yesterday, March 5.) You may also know she was shot on her way to school at the age of 15 for her outspoken oppositions to Taliban rule in Swat, the region where her family is from.
Malala first gained international attention in 2009 when she anonymously blogged for the BBC detailing life as a young woman under increasingly one-sided Taliban rule in her home region of Swat, Pakistan. This came a year after her first public speech in her own country entitled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” — she was 11 years old at the time (talk about fierce). The same year as her BBC piece, a documentary by Adam B. Ellick and Irfan Ashraf, Class Dismissed: The Death of Female Education*, was released. The short film focuses on the situation in Swat as the Taliban made advances, imposed harsher regulations, and banned girls from attending school altogether. It gives an in-depth look at the violence the Taliban utilized, as well as insight into how and why Malala’s family was eventually forced to leave their home after tensions mounted and Malala’s school (run by her father) closed its doors. It opens with a powerful line:
“In the area where I live, there are some people who want to stop educating girls through guns.” — Ziaudin Yousafzai, Malala’s father
Eventually, the family returned to Swat and the school reopened — but with death threats against Ziaudin and eventually his daughter Malala, the family’s troubles were far from behind them. Malala continued in the intrepid pursuit of her education, her reputation rising in prominence as her story was heard around the world. She was awarded the first Pakistani National Peace Prize in 2011. Malala was well aware of the Taliban’s call for her death, but she pressed forward.
“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” — Malala on a Pakistani Television Network, 2011
In October of 2012, the situation Malala had imagined came to a devastating reality. A Taliban gunman boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, then shot her in the face. That’s right — a bullet entered Malala’s head on the left side and traveled down to her neck. She was flown in critical condition first to Peshawar, then to the United Kingdom to have a series of intensive surgeries. Despite the grave condition of her injuries, Malala survived, as is her way, and worked hard to rehabilitate.
Malala gave her first speech at the United Nations less than a year on her 16th birthday in July, 2013. She had this to say to the Taliban who hoped to thwart her efforts to get an education and discourage others from doing the same:
“Nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died; strength, power, and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same.” — Malala, UN speech July 2013
Talk. About. Fierce. (Something tells me that won’t be her last appearance on the United Nations platform.) The ambitions, hopes, and dreams Malala mentions above refer to her dream that every child — regardless of gender, nationality, ethnicity, and religion — receive a quality education. Her ambitions are taking practical shape through an initiative advocating for girls’ education, fittingly named The Malala Fund. She also dreams of attending a top university after she finishes her secondary studies, and talks of helping her country by becoming a member of Pakistani Parliament (in the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto). I have no doubt Malala will continue to relentlessly pursue these and other dreams, as well as fight for justice and education for all.
Malala, I applaud you. As your sisters and brothers, we are with you, behind you, and beside you always. Endure and continue forward, forever forward — I know you know no other way. You are a true star, shining for the benefit of all.
You can read more about Malala’s story in her book, I Am Malala: The Girl who Stood Up for Education. Join us the rest of the week as we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8, with stories of inspiring women on our blog and social media using the hashtag #IWD2014.
*Note that the documentary at the corresponding link contains some graphic images within the first two minutes of the piece.
One of the most inspiring women in the field of development, empowerment, and financial inclusion today is Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund. Her book, The Blue Sweater, is a go-to around the Cornerstone offices, and her TED Talks are often required viewing for new members of our intern team. You can read more about Jacqueline here, and watch one of her brilliantly delivered TED videos below.
Join us as we celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8, with posts about inspiring women all week on our blog & social media.