Girls and women are disproportionately more affected than men by armed conflict, sexual violence, injury, death, intimidation, and human trafficking. Yet less than 7.5 percent of private foundation funding goes towards girls and women's rights, and two years ago one in four of women's organizations were in danger of closing.
That's why we started Catapult, the first crowdfunding platform dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women around the world. We aim to make a real difference and to use the power of the internet to connect people who care about justice with trusted organizations that are working issues like reproductive rights, child marriage, and girls education, and desperately need financial support.
This has been an exciting year for our community. Since Catapult's launch in October 2012, we've already made a huge impact. Our online community and our partners (which include Johnson & Johnson, Melinda Gates, Gucci's Chime for Change campaign, and Glamour Magazine), were truly the ones who helped make this happen. Together, we have raised more than $5 million for more than 85 organizations in 81 countries. Our community has funded projects that range from educating girls in Kenya, to aiding survivors of sex trafficking in the United States, to helping refugees access healthcare in Syria.
The results are truly inspiring. One project, the Afghan Institute of Learning's (AIL) mobile literacy classes, has taught 175 women and girls to read and write, all using mobile phones. This work is imperative, considering that the literacy rate of Afghan women is one of the lowest in the world at 12.6 percent.
Here's one student's story:
My name is Adela. I am 22 years old. Before coming to this class I didn't imagine I would be able to read and write once, but AIL proved to me that believing in one's abilities is the key to success and achievement. It is a thing of pride for me and my family that I am able to read and write. My father owns a small shop, but he is uneducated. At night when he is home I help him with accounting and recording goods he buys and sells. I am very happy with my friends then because I own a cell phone and I am able to use all the options on it. At the end I want to thank AIL for giving me this great chance to change my life in four months.
There are many more stories like Adela's, and we have made great progress in Catapult's first year. But, of course, there's a lot more work to be done, and we're looking forward to even greater results ahead.
Catapult teamed up with Johnson & Johnson again this giving season on the "Care Grows" campaign, which launched on December 3, Giving Tuesday. Johnson & Johnson is matching donations to select projects on Catapult for bringing relief in the Philippines, training youth leaders in the United States, ensuring safe births in the Congo, and helping women in Mexico become successful entrepreneurs. You can choose a project close to your heart from nine organizations around the world that are bringing real change for girls and women.
You can also make your money go further by joining Catapult Curator Melinda Gates to help send newborn care kits to disaster areas in the Philippines. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match your donation to Save the Children's "Disaster Relief for Moms and Newborns."
I am thankful that Catapult has given me the opportunity to do meaningful work on these issues that I care about. Together we can make a real difference and ensure that all girls and women around the world are able to share in the holiday cheer.
Join us to start off 2014 in the rights direction.