The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced nineteen grants totaling $24 million in support of innovative approaches to improving the lives and well-being of women and girls around the globe.
Announced on International Women's Day and made through the foundation's Grand Challenges: Women and Girls initiative, the grants include eleven awards made in late 2015 and eight in the process of being finalized. Awarded to women-led projects in Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, and Uganda, the grants will support a ranging of activities, from exploring how mobile technology can help women gain more control over household financial decisions to working with women and their male partners to address family planning and other health issues.
Grant recipients include the BOMA Project, which will use the funds to measure change in the decision-making role of very poor Kenyan 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 aimed at improving the productivity and decision-making power of women; CARE, which will assess the impact of a unique gender-transformative approach to enhancing economic well-being as well as food and nutritional security among women smallholder farmers in Burundi; the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, which will work to empower women within their households by helping couples work together to build skills around gender equality, household finance, and family planning; and ZanaAfrica Group in Kenya, which will explore creative approaches to menstrual health education for adolescent girls.
"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 Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates. "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."