March 13, 2015
On Tuesday, our Executive Director Kara Gerson spoke at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on the occasion of the 59th Commission on the Status of Women and the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration. The event she participated in launched a new inter-agency Joint Programme on empowering adolescent girls and young women through education through cross-sector, integrative partnerships.
For a panel discussion entitled “Catalytic Partnerships for Gender Equality in Education: The Way Forward,” moderated by BBC News’ Laura Trevelyan, Kara (second from left, above) was joined by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO; Dr. Babtunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA; Phumzile Mlamba-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Caren Grown, Senior Director of the Gender Group at the World Bank; Zenebu Taddesse, Minister of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs; Her Excellency Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN; and Susan Myers, Senior Vice President of the UN Foundation.
Kara spoke about the particular burden women and girls face in rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa without access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, which inspired our global Women Helping Women campaign. And she explained how Voss Foundation creates a ripple effect by partnering with organizations like Georges Malaika Foundation; Milgis Trust; FACE Africa; Good Future & Hope; and Gone Rural boMake, Nest, and Rosecraft to give women and girls the necessary health, hygiene, sanitation, time, and security to be able to pursue an education.
“We find that working across sectors, with different stakeholders taking responsibility for their areas of expertise, saves resources and prevents duplication, producing more viable and sustainable projects with a holistic view of development to create… an enabling environment that transforms lives,” she elaborated.
Voss Foundation does not have our own staff on the ground in Sub-Saharan Africa and therefore partners on every single project with community-based or local organizations. We recognize that women and girls bear the burdens of lacking clean water, sanitation, and hygiene disproportionately and so, similarly, benefit disproportionately from our projects. For all of these reasons, we view our investments in communities as a direct investment as well in women and girls. This belief is routinely confirmed when we receive follow-up reports after projects are completed about more women and girls in school and receiving education.
Kara tells us, “It was an honor to be invited by the UN Office of Partnerships, UNESCO, UN Women, UNFPA and the World Bank to address the Commission on the Status of Women with such extraordinarily impressive co-panelists. And I was particularly pleased to be able to talk about Voss Foundation’s partnerships and the impact of our ripple effect on women and girls, two things of which I am exceedingly proud.”