The Great Press for Progress: Clean the World Foundation’s Innovative Women’s Initiatives

Happy Thursday fellow Soaper Heroes, and Happy International Women’s Day 2018! International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over the world. A day that has been celebrated since the early 1900s and officially recognized by the United Nations in 1975, International Women’s Day has become a day of both celebration and activism. 

When you think about it, women have made some pretty huge leaps toward equality. Right now, there are more than ten women serving as the head of their countries, such as Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany and President Tsai Ing-Wen of Taiwan. Not to mention some of the world’s most influential people are women, we’re talking about Malala Yousafzai who continues to advocate for girls’ education and in more recent news, Tarana Burke who founded the pivotal #metoo campaign highlighting sexual assault and misconduct worldwide. Women have clearly got it going on!

 However, with all this success there are still plenty of pressing issues to remember. Globally, violence against women remains disproportionately higher than that of men, and health care and education are not prioritized for women either. In fact, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), less than 40% of countries provide boys and girls with equal education opportunities. In addition, women have yet to be paid equally to their male counterparts. In fact, in developing countries there is even less opportunity to get a job, much less earn equal pay. In short, yass for the progress we’ve made so far, but we’ve got to keep pushin’. 

 This year, the IWD theme is #PressforProgress, a theme that encourages us all to keep moving forward with the push for gender parity in any area we can. We at Clean the World Foundation (CTWF) celebrate International Women’s Day this March 8 and recognize the work that has to be done to one day achieve equality for all. We believe in women’s rights so much that we’ve made a point to include the well-being of women in every part of our multiple programs. Through our five main programs, we #PressforProgress in various ways. 

Most notably is our Microfinancing program, a program that focuses on women, who are in many cases the most marginalized group in the communities we serve. It is a proven fact that when women are better educated and have jobs, whole communities thrive. This program was launched in 2012 with the goal of creating an independent and sustainable way to make soap and hygiene products available after Clean the World Foundation has transitioned out of the community. The major kicker was the opportunity to help create jobs and a steady source of income for the select individuals that participated.

Since then, we have provided over 20 microfinancing opportunities in 19 countries. We’ve provided loans in places like Honduras, Guatemala, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone to name a few. The program goes a little something like this:

  • CTW Foundation invites individuals to go through an application process facilitated by a partner organization on the ground.
  • Once accepted into the program, the recipient receives a one-time, zero-interest loan that is used to acquire all the supplies needed to make soap or other hygiene supplies needed.
  •  CTW Foundation also provides training on the basics of running a successful business, and how to make the hygiene products. 
  • Once the business is up and running, the loan is expected to be paid back over time, typically somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 – 3 years.

To date, this program has been very successful. With 100% of the loans being repaid or on track to be repaid, and the women we’ve provided this capital to running their businesses successfully. We at CTW Foundation are both proud of their accomplishments and excited to provide microfinancing opportunities to more women in the future. And it’s not just the Microfinancing we’re fired up about either, other programs like our International WASH Education program will be geared toward women a little more as well. We have plans to start implementing our WASH education into community clinics and maternal health centers in order to extend our impact to the women that we previously weren’t able to reach. As they say, the future is female (inclusive) and CTW Foundation is here for it!

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