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Connecting, Inspiring, and Educating Women and Girls

11 April 2013 No Comment

Uraidah Hassani

Uraidah Hassani
New York, New York

“We envision a global community of women and girls who believe in their self-worth, are informed and smart decision-makers, and are motivated to be leaders and change-makers in their own communities.” – Uraidah Hassani, Founder and Executive Director, The Women Worldwide Initiative

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The persistence of gender inequities and poverty in all regions and countries across the globe is the most pressing and enduring issue of our time. The Women Worldwide Initiative believes that education and leadership training are crucial for women and girls to secure equal rights and opportunities, and our programs aim to strengthen women’s capacity as decision-makers and promote gender equality, female leadership, and poverty eradication.

The Women Worldwide Initiative (TWWI) is a community-based organization with the mission to connect, inspire, and educate women and girls through mentorship programs, social change projects, and awareness campaigns. Our programs are dedicated to youth development and social and economic empowerment of women and girls in low-income and marginalized communities. We utilize a bottom-up approach coupled with the strong belief that true change must come from within individuals and communities.

Our Young Women Rock! Mentorship Program is dedicated to strengthening the lives and communities of young women from under-served communities through an after-school educational, leadership, and personal development program that includes weekly sessions and special cultural outings. Through our program, young women see a change in their own lives and acquire tools to change the lives of other women in their community.

The philosophy behind the YWR! curriculum and mentoring approach is to empower young women by helping them think critically about themselves, their identity, and their goals while breaking down the negative messages fed to them by society and the media. The program pairs college student mentors with high school students, and is currently offered to teenage girls in two of New York City’s most underprivileged neighborhoods: Brownsville and East New York, Brooklyn.

The need for the program is great. Rates of poverty, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, are alarmingly high both in Brownsville and in East New York. Teen pregnancy in particular leads many girls in these communities to drop out of high school, lowering their chances of receiving a higher education. Our hope is that Young Women Rock! will interrupt the poverty cycle that exists in so many communities by providing young women with access to important resources and to a strong, life-long support system that encourages their ambition and empowers their confidence.

Through the Women Worldwide Initiative's Young Women Rock! mentorship program, young women see a change in their own lives and acquire tools to change the lives of other women in their community.

While YWR! currently operates in the United States, our Social Change Projects are an international collaboration with partner organizations that focus on education and entrepreneurship in developing countries. The Social Change Projects are small action projects that address specific and urgent needs as expressed by local communities. While foreign aid is not always effective in reaching those most in need with what they need most, Social Change Projects assists communities in developing homegrown, innovative, and sustainable solutions for lasting change.

Our current Social Change Project, Tech-Savvy Chimoza, is working in partnership with The Q Fund to furnish the first and only computer lab in the rural Zambian community of Ndola, as part of the Chimoza Community School. The computer lab will serve at least 400 students as well as adults in the community in IT literacy-building classes, and also generate revenue for Ndola through an Internet cafe run by Ndola locals. The project will help to improve the quality and competitiveness of education for children and adults in the region. We plan to launch the pilot project Sewing Futures in Azua, DR in partnership with Better Future International this summer to provide sewing training to increase the skills and income potential of undereducated female caregivers, which we hope will lay the foundation for a broader initiative to also provide training to adolescent girls and women in the community.

Our work focuses on elevating girls’ and women’s voices and empowering their position in the world. We need to keep asking the question, “Where are the women?” until women are seated at every table, from the classroom in the Dominican Republic to the Board room on Wall Street, from the corner office to the negotiating table. Where women are fully represented, societies are more peaceful and stable. It does not matter where you get involved in this movement; it does that you get involved somewhere.

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The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.

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