The Slaight Family Foundation in Toronto has committed C$15 million ($11.2 million) to launch an initiative aimed at improving the lives of women and girls in developing countries.
Announced ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, the Global Initiative for Women and Girls will award grants of C$1 million ($746,000) to fifteen organizations working to advance human rights and opportunities for women and girls in impoverished, fragile, or conflict-affected regions. The grantees will use the funds to address issues ranging from human rights abuses and child marriage to sex trafficking, HIV/AIDS, and education.
Grant recipients include Ottawa-based CARE Canada, which will use the funds to develop and test solutions for improving menstrual hygiene management for school-age girls in Somalia, many of whom have experienced female genital mutilation; Human Rights Watch, which aims to end discrimination against women and girls by documenting the abuses of the male guardianship system in the Middle East and North Africa; Halifax-based Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, which works to reduce child soldier recruitment and conflict-based sexual violence by building the capacity of national militaries and local police forces; and Toronto-based War Child Canada, which works to empower women and girls through targeted educational programming and legal support for those affected by or at risk of gender-based violence in Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, Syria, Uganda, and Yemen. In addition, World Vision Canada will use its grant in Mali to roll out the DREAM (Dedicated to Reducing Early Marriage) program, which raises awareness of and addresses the root causes of child marriage by providing sexual and reproductive health services, educational programming, and livelihood training to girls and their mothers.
"The aim of this gift is to improve conditions for women and girls living in difficult circumstances, who represent some of the world's most vulnerable populations," said Gary Slaight, a Canadian businessman and head of the Slaight Family Foundation. "The projects we are funding will leverage the expertise of these vital organizations to protect women and girls in the most fragile countries from direct harm, rebuild the lives of those who have been unjustly affected by conflict, deprivation, and disease, and give them the tools and support they need to survive and thrive."
(Photo credit: World Vision)