Let Every Woman's Voice Ring

By promoting and funding progress in the areas of education, health and justice, we can change the prospects for girls and women, and those girls and women can change the world.
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As I write this, I am expecting my first child, a daughter. The prospect of motherhood has made me think more than ever about the world women are living in.

There are still many places, even in the developed world, where a girl born today will not experience equal opportunity or equal treatment or equal prospects simply because she is a girl.

We live in a world where the act of giving life could mean losing your own -- because 800 women die every day during pregnancy and childbirth of easily preventable deaths.

A world where the majority of the children who are not in school are girls, and two-thirds of the world's illiterate adults are women.

A world where 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.

And yet we also know that if we cut school fees, girls are much more likely to enroll. If we give a girl just one extra year of education, her wages will rise dramatically, and almost all of what she earns will be reinvested in her family. Small changes can lead to big gains for girls and women, for their families, and for the world.

By promoting and funding progress in the areas of education, health and justice, we can change the prospects for girls and women, and those girls and women can change the world.

That's why I am proud to announce the creation of a new campaign called Chime for Change, founded by Gucci.

Chime for Change is a global effort focused on girls' and women's empowerment. It serves to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world, and to raise funds for non-profit organizations pursuing change. In launching Chime for Change, I am joined by two inspiring co-founders and mothers: Beyoncé and Salma Hayek Pinault. Together, we will lead with an advisory board of women's issues advocates and experts, as well as international leaders in business and philanthropy.

I have always felt that we must use the positions we hold to make the difference we can. I'm honored to be a part of a company -- Gucci -- that shares this belief. A focus on girls and women is a part of Gucci's -- and our parent company, PPR's -- DNA, from employees and customers, to senior leadership, most especially PPR Chairman Franҫois-Henri Pinault, who also chairs the PPR Foundation for Women's Dignity and Rights. Gucci has committed to bring its resources and relationships to bear in supporting this campaign.

As such, we've enlisted the support of partners and organizations that constitute an innovative coalition for change. The campaign is powered by our fundraising partner, Catapult, the first crowdfunding platform focused exclusively on girls and women. We have developed a strategic community-building partnership with Facebook. We're learning from leading philanthropic organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the PPR Foundation for Women's Dignity and Rights, as well as non-profits like UNICEF, Equality Now, and Education First. We have an international media partner, Hearst Magazines, whose global footprint reaches important audiences around the world. And we're pleased to have Mariane Pearl serving as our managing editor, soliciting and curating stories about the challenges and triumphs of women worldwide, with an emphasis on the individuals at the center of the stories.

One of our most powerful levers in this effort is technology. With social media, we have the ability to amplify moments until they ignite movements. Through organizations like Catapult, Chime for Change encourages citizen philanthropy and brings people face to face not just with the issues confronting girls and women around the world, but also with the tools and opportunities they need to overcome them. Each project tells you exactly where your donation is going, and lets you connect with people who share your passion for whatever cause you choose.

When you consider that $50 provides vocational training for a girl in India, or that less than $200 can train a mentor who will help refugees adjust to life in America, or that $8,000 is enough to build a water system in Ethiopia that will make it so that girls and women no longer have to walk two hours round trip to collect unsafe water from a river -- you realize how much positive impact each of us can have.

We don't need to wait for governments to act, or laws to change. The opportunities are out there. And there isn't a moment to waste.

On a visit to a child care center in Chimteka, Malawi in 2009, a little girl ran to me, asking to be held, asking to be lifted up. She had gorgeous, wide eyes, and that simple act of lifting her up brought a huge smile to her face. She nuzzled into my shoulder, the way children do. It pained me to put her down.

With Chime for Change, we can lift up millions of girls and women, and help them learn, stay healthy, be safe, and thrive.

I'll be making more announcements on behalf of Chime for Change in the coming days, because I believe this a pivotal moment in history. We can do more than stand by. We can stand together. By raising your voice, you'll help more of the world's girls and women can find theirs. Help the world hear our calls for change; join our campaign at www.chimeforchange.org and www.facebook.com/chimeforchange.