SEATTLE — WomenStrong International is a powerful consortium of non-profit organizations that span over five different nations (Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya and the U.S.) and support women-led and women-oriented solutions to poverty. The organization provides resources to help meet the “six essential needs” that women and girls require to succeed: health, safety, shelter, education, economic empowerment and urban environment.
Ghana: Women’s Health to Wealth
What started as a small women’s clinic in busy downtown Kumasi, Women’s Health to Wealth (WHW) has grown into an essential landmark for women’s well-being in the Ashanti region of Ghana. The non-governmental organization strives to reach its three main goals through several different missions: Empower girls through education, provide support to mothers and foster female economic empowerment.
The organization has several goals to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health. WHW is working through training and seminars to get 80 percent of midwives in the region trained in HBB (Helping Babies Breathe) and HBS (Helping Babies Survive), while also guaranteeing that all women between the age of 25 and 55 have annual health screenings and quality, affordable treatment.
Financial empowerment is not lost to WHW either, as can be seen through the Social Capital Credits Program put in place to give women access to loans and other livelihood-improving incentives.
WHW is working on establishing Girls Clubs in junior and senior high schools throughout the region so as to provide adolescent reproductive health services and create scholarships. Dental screenings, building toilets, reproductive health forums, establishing girls’ sports teams and literacy workshops are just a few of the numerous ventures working to help girls succeed.
Their most current project? The program’s first ever leadership camp for girls in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
Haiti: H.O.P.E (Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa)
H.O.P.E. has come a long way since its development in 1996. Expanding from the community of Borgne to an area spanning 100 miles in Northern Haiti, the organization is now equipped with a hospital and mobile clinic network that provides heath care to 80,000 people. These revolutionary clinics offer everything from pre- and post-natal care screenings, to information on nutrition and hygiene and the provision of clean water kits.
Partnership with WomenStrong International has helped H.O.P.E. create the first ever operating room capable of performing a cesarean section in Northern Haiti.
India: The Dhan Foundation
Focusing on India’s slums of Madurai, The Dhan (Development of Humane Action) Foundation and WomenStrong International mobilize against domestic violence and for improving community infrastructure by helping women gain financial literacy, job skills and important health information. They offer leadership and legal training, as well as cancer and anemia screenings. Through these works, the Dhan Foundation hopes to bring a poverty-free and gender-balanced society to India.
Kenya: Alice Visionary Foundation Project (AVFP)
AVFP was founded to help the people in a specific village outside of Kisumu who were directly affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since 2005, AVFP has provided help to vulnerable children, schools, savings and loan programs and a variety of empowerment enterprises for women and girls. The School Feeding Project benefits the 400 children at Amilo Primary School in Kenya by giving them a daily hot meal during school hours, often the most nutrition the child gets during their day.
The project was initiated to increase attendance in school children, improve their learning and introduce school farms and gardens. The Girls’ Clubs and Teens’ Clubs are supported through a grant from WomenStrong International, and brings together around 300 girls to learn about health, receive career counseling and generally empower the girls through providing strong role models and opportunities to increase their livelihood.
United States: Bread for the City — WomenStrong DC
According to WomenStrong, “The experience of women in Southeast Washington, D.C., may have more in common with women in Kenya than with women across town. The struggles and hardships of poor women everywhere are much the same.” Both places are plagued with HIV/AIDS and domestic violence, with D.C. far exceeding Kenya in gun violence. Bread for the City offers services to the many vulnerable women in southeast Washington D.C., by providing food, medical supplies and legal support.
Bread for the City’s food program boasts the largest food pantry in D.C., complete with two rooftop gardens, and their advocacy program has helped preserve and create affordable housing throughout the area.
The medical clinic, providing care to uninsured and low-income D.C. residents, treats everything from primary care to behavioral health to dental and vision for over 3,700 patients. Bread for the City also offers social services and legal representation.
To learn more about the life-saving actions of WomenStrong International, go to http://www.womenstrong.org.
– Katherine Gallagher