As we begin the Twelve Days of Christmas, and mark the fifth night of Hanukah, here are some organizations I recommend that help create sustainable change for women and girls worldwide. Happy holidays, with many wishes for a better world.
For the first day ("partridge in a pear tree"): Women Thrive works with policy makers on a number of issues including women and agriculture. As our globe's population reaches 7 billion, there hundreds of millions of people who live in hunger. Women Thrive works with policy makers to ensure that women small-scale, subsistence farmers have the same access to productive resources as men. Experts say that this simple step could increase yields on women's farms by 20-30% and lift 100 to 150 million people out of hunger.
For the second day ("turtle doves"): Pax World, which is a leader in smart, responsible investing as well as advocacy for gender equality as an investment criterion and for increasing the representation of women on corporate boards. Pax launched the first socially responsible mutual fund in America in 1971, and its Pax World Global Women's Equality Fund (PXWEX), is the only mutual fund in America whose focus is on investing in companies that are global leaders in advancing gender equality and women's empowerment.
For the third day ("French hens"): GlobalGiving allows you to choose your region or interest, and they do have projects in France! This fundraising web site gives social entrepreneurs and non-profits anywhere in the world a chance to raise money. Since 2002, GlobalGiving has raised $55,447,869 from 239,731 donors supporting 5,068 projects. You can pick a project or give a gift card which allows the recipient to choose from the amazing projects.
For the fourth day (" colly birds - or is it calling birds?'): The Women in Public Service Project was launched in early December at the U.S. Department of State by Sec. Clinton. Founded by a partnership between the Department of State and the Seven Sisters women's colleges, it will create training, mentoring and networking opportunities for emerging women leaders from across the globe.
For the fifth day (" golden rings"): The Umoja Uaso Women's Group in Samburu, Kenya was founded in 1990 as a safe women-only village for women who have left their families because of domestic abuse and violence. In spite of many threats and challenges, the women of Umoja maintain a pre-school, a cultural center, a curio shop, a camp site for tourists and a communal fund. To support themselves, the village creates beautiful bead work, which can be purchased in the using this website.
For the sixth day ("geese a laying'): the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) works globally with both women and men to develop business skills and support advocacy for legal reforms to build a better business climate. CIPE works with women entrepreneurs across the globe to identify barriers to entrepreneurship and provides relevant training, capacity building, and support through women's associations, which help women create jobs and contribute to economic development.
For the seventh day ("swans a swimming"): the Girl Scouts, which does so much to "build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place." The Girl Scouts will be 100 this year, and they are about more than those yummy cookies. The Girl Scouts is about helping girls from every part of society build a strong future for themselves through leadership experiences that form long lasting skills, friendships and dedication to service. The Girl Scouts build future leaders; the list of famous Girl Scout alumnae is amazing, including our three women Secretaries of State Albright, Rice and Clinton.
For the eighth day ("maids milking"): Heifer International is best known for its program that allows donors to buy cattle, sheep, rabbits, honeybees, pigs, llamas, water buffalo, heifers, chicks, ducks, goats, geese, other regionally appropriate livestock, as well as tree seedlings. But Heifer also works to with communities to fashion and sustain projects worldwide that help ensure that communities and families can support themselves in the long term. Heifer has been in existence for 65 years and has served families in 128 countries.
For the ninth day ("ladies dancing"): the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum celebrates women's progress toward equality--and explores the evolving role of women and their contributions to society--through educational programs, tours, exhibits, research and publications. The historic National Woman's Party (NWP), a leader in the campaign for equal rights and women's suffrage, owns, maintains and interprets the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, which houses an extensive collection of suffrage banners, archives and artifacts documenting the continuing effort to win voting rights and equality for women under the law.
For the tenth day ("leaping lords"): Usher's New Look Foundation is impressive. Usher, who is a global super star, started New Look in 1999, and the foundation has developed a model for engaging young women and men and giving them a strong sense of how they can affect the world they live in. New Look takes this seriously and certifies young men and women in four leadership areas - talent, education, career and service -- through a partnership with Emory University's Executive MBA program. Ninety-eight percent of New Look youth graduate high school and go on to college.
For the eleventh day ("pipers piping"): We Advance is an amazing non-profit dedicated to helping advance the health, safety and well-being of women in Haiti. Founded by my friend Maria Bello, its work has centered in Wharf Jeremy and Cite Soleil, the poorest slums in Haiti, and provides basic health services and adult education. In 2011, We Advance delivered these services to over 50,000 Haitians.
For the twelfth ("drummers drumming"): Vital Voices Global Partnership is an organization with which I have worked for many years. Vital Voices, which started as a US government program in the Clinton Administration, is now a non-profit and is dedicated to helping exceptional women leaders across the globe develop their skills and deepen the impact they have on their communities and countries.
It's fitting to close with the Vital Voices motto, "invest in women, improve the world."