3 Groups Receive First Ever US Innovation Award for Women’s Empowerment

Posted March 9th, 2012 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has presented awards of half-a-million dollars each to three organizations working to empower women and girls in India, Kenya and Tanzania.

The three groups — Chintan, Samasource and KickStart — are the first ever recipients of the Secretary's Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

The award is funded by The Rockefeller Foundation. Presenting the honor at the State Department Friday, Clinton said it was established to support the “most creative thinkers and committed activists.”

“These are innovators who are making a difference in India, Kenya and Tanzania. These are people who looked at a problem and said, 'I refuse to accept this. I'm going to do something about it.'”

The first group to receive its award was Chintan, an Indian non-profit organization that works to train and organize waste pickers, eliminate child labor from recycling and increase environmental justice through green jobs and advocacy. Accepting the award for Chintan was Bharati Chaturvedi, the group's founder.

“On behalf of all these women and young girls who have scavenged through the Indian middle class's trash, I want to thank you for acknowledging them.”

Samasource is a U.S.-based social enterprise that provides women and girls in Kenya and elsewhere with the skills and resources to perform online jobs for companies in the U.S. and abroad. Leilah Janah is the group's founder.

“We plan to use this transformational grant to employ 1,000 women across our centers in East Africa through microwork, which is an innovative model that connects them directly into the supply chains, the digital supply chains of some of the world's largest companies, like Intuit and eBay.”

KickStart is a non-profit helping poor women in Tanzania through a farming irrigation tool known as a MoneyMaker Hip Pump, which helps them grow fruits and vegetables to sell throughout the year, even in the dry season. The program has a micropayment program to enable women to pay for the tool over time. KickStart Tanzania's Country Manager, Anne Atieno Otieno, made her first ever trip to the United States to accept the award.

“In KickStart Tanzania, we've been able to work with women. We've seen many of the women being able to lift their lives out of poverty by starting small agribusiness through the MoneyMaker pump.”

Secretary Clinton said the State Department has focused on the challenges facing women and girls, not just because it is what she called a “moral imperative,” but because the U.S. believes that transforming the lives of women and girls transforms societies, countries and the world. Clinton said working with women and on their behalf can open doors for employment, health care and education, which have ripple effects that lift entire communities and foster peace, prosperity and stability.