Leaders around the world fighting for women’s issues

Nicholas Kristof, the NYT journalist, and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have made a list of the most powerful women who are campaigning for women’s issues. It’s a rather interesting assortment, listed on Forbes.com.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was familiar with some of these women. Zainab Salbi, for one, is the founder of Women for Women International.

This organization provides training and business start-up assistance for women who have been traumatized by war, rape, or other violence.  Last year, my oldest brother, Jon, sponsored a woman in my children’s honor.  The kids started a year-long correspondence with Suzana, a 29 year old Congolese woman who had never been to school and was caring for her husband and three children (four other children had died).  Suzana wrote about her daily schedule, which consisted of washing her children, cleaning her home, washing clothes, and cooking.  Four months later, she wrote that she was learning bread-making and was now baking bread at home, hopefully as part of a new business.

Sponsoring a woman through this organization is a great way to get them back on their feet and able to support themselves and their families. It costs $30/month.

Helene Gayle, the head of CARE, and I go way back. Actually, I haven’t met her, but in the mid-nineties I worked with her brother, Jacob, who was then the HIV/AIDS division chief at USAID. Both are amazing individuals and Helene is quite a powerful ally for women.

Catherine Hamlin, an Australian obstetrician, has dedicated her life to fistula repair in Ethiopia. And, I’ve recently learned about a few others mentioned in this list from my current job: Melanee Verveer, American ambassador for global women’s issues at the State Department (check out this recent article she wrote) and Molly Melching, founder of Tostan, an organization working  on community empowerment in Africa.

It’s a great list. Is there anyone else you would add?

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