SEATTLE, March 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- On International Women's Day, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced 19 new grants totaling more than $24 million to support innovative approaches to improve the lives and well-being of women and girls worldwide. Eleven of these grants have been awarded and eight are in the process of being finalized.
Women's and girls' empowerment is at the core of this work, with a breadth of approaches proposed: from exploring how mobile technology can help women gain more control over financial decisions; to working with women - and their male partners - on decisions about family planning and other health issues. Many projects put the spotlight on adolescent girls – a critical life stage for health and development - helping them access education, find employment, and take care of their health.
This Grand Challenges initiative also opens the door for the foundation to invest in new areas to overcome fundamental barriers for girls and women, including gender-based violence, girls' education and child marriage. These projects will develop approaches to empower the most vulnerable adolescent girls, increasing their autonomy, decision-making agency, and leadership at individual, household, and community levels.
"Empowered women and girls transform societies, but we don't know with enough certainty what the world can do to help reduce gender inequality and help women and girls realize their potential," said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "These new investments are exciting because they will help improve understanding of the underlying drivers of gender inequality and help us and our partners take steps to tackle them."
After a rigorous review process, today's new grantees were selected from 1,742 letters of interest from 128 countries and represent primarily female-led projects from Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, and Uganda. Grantees include:
- The BOMA Project, Inc. in Kenya which will measure change in the decision-making role of very poor pastoral women through their participation in a poverty graduation program.
- WaterSHED in Cambodia which will develop a women's mentorship network and a special marketing program for affordable water, sanitation and hygiene products in order to improve the productivity and decision-making power of women.
- CARE in Burundi which will rigorously assess the impact of a unique gender-transformative approach to enhancing economic wellbeing, food and nutrition security among women smallholder farmers.
- The University of Ibadan in Nigeria which will conduct an evaluation for empowering Nigerian women within the household by targeting men and women together as a couple through building skills on gender equality, household finance and family planning.
- ZanaAfrica Group Ltd in Kenya which has a project called 'Listen Up: Amplifying girls' voices through sanitary pads and health information' that will look at creative approaches to menstrual health education for adolescent girls.
Just last week these projects met together for the very first time. Gathering in Nairobi, Kenya for a Measurement and Evaluation Workshop, this diverse set of partners have begun to develop a joint learning and evidence agenda. Together these 19 projects are poised to make a substantial contribution towards advancing understanding of 'what works' to empower women and girls across the globe.
A full list of the grants awarded today can be found here: http://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/announcement/grand-challenges-putting-women-and-girls-center-development-grants-awarded
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people -- especially those with the fewest resources -- have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. In 2003, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched Grand Challenges in Global Health, which came to include multiple funding partners. This initiative focused on 14 major scientific challenges that, if solved, could lead to key advances in preventing, treating, and curing diseases of the developing world. Seeking to engage the world's most creative minds, Grand Challenges in Global Health awarded 44 grants totaling over $450 million for research projects involving scientists in 33 countries. In 2015, Grand Challenges - Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Development, was launched and issued a global call for proposals.
SOURCE Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation