FIRST THOUGHT: Using Technology for Good
It’s hard to turn off the bad news. It’s on your Facebook feed, all over 24-hour news channels and cluttering your email inbox. Because many modern-day offenses involve technology, it can be easy to feel down about living in the digital era.
But technology also has the ability to do so much good in the world. It makes it easier to stay in touch with colleagues and loved ones throughout the world, learn a new language in the comfort of your own home and get last-minute online recipes for the potluck your husband just told you about. Today, send all those negative emails to your spam folder and resolve to embrace all the good stuff you can accomplish with technology, like helping others.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 55.6 Percent
While we tend to think those living in poverty reside in other countries, there are plenty of girls and women in need in our own backyard. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there are 45.3 million people in the United States living in poverty. More than half—55.6 percent—are women and girls from every major racial and ethnic group. And 15.8 percent are young women between the ages of 18 and 34.
Many factors contribute to women’s economic insecurity, including the gender wage gap, women’s prevalence in low-paid occupations, a lack of work-family support and the challenges involved in accessing public benefits.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, Founder and President of Women’s World Wide Web (W4)
Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke is doing her personal best to squash poverty in the U.S. and worldwide. She is no stranger to traveling the world to fight for human rights. In fact, it’s become her lifelong passion. She worked for Human Rights Watch in New York and for UNICEF in Africa, where she focused on a project to promote girls’ education.
After working with children and families in a shantytown in the Philippines, Lindsey took a strong interest in microfinance, wanting to find ways to give girls from the poorest backgrounds access to the resources that ensure their development. Armed with this goal, Lindsey studied microfinance in Bangladesh with Grameen Bank. She learned that digital technology is essential to supporting girls living in poverty.
In 2010, on International Women’s Day, she launched a Paris-based online collaborative platform called Women’s World Wide Web, or W4, that aims to promote girls’ and women’s empowerment worldwide. Through W4, individuals and organizations can explore and support initiatives throughout the world that combat poverty, protect girls’ and women’s human rights and promote their empowerment. Key to the organization is W4’s mission to ensure girls and women have equal opportunity to be digitally connected and can access the life-enhancing potential of information and communication technologies.
Some examples of W4 projects include building education and training centers for women entrepreneurs in the Ivory Coast, sponsoring safe birth kits to help save the lives of mothers and children in Ghana and giving girls access to online education in Uganda, thanks to solar energy.
By empowering women and girls, supporters are addressing issues of hunger, social stability, global security and poverty. Lindsey calls this the “girl effect,” and it’s mighty powerful in effecting change.
Lindsey didn’t know she wanted to be an entrepreneur, but life led her there. Seeing women and children survive despite their circumstances gave her the strength to take risks. Her advice for setting out on the great unknown as an entrepreneur is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, let your passion guide you, create a network of support, be patient and accept and provide mentorship. As Lindsey says, everyone should be passionate about helping other women up the economic, corporate and entrepreneurial ladders.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Many people have wisely commented on the necessity of helping others, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said:
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.