Women’s Rights: 2014 Classy Awards Top 5

Women’s Rights programs preserve and protect the rights of females in the military, at the doctors office, in the community, at home and at work. These programs fight for an end to women trafficked for sex, violence against women and women forced into slavery.

Women Empowered

PCI Global (Project Concern International)

Ethiopian women lack basic rights, such as access to land titles, health services, education, and meaningful participation in local leadership and decision-making. An estimated 9,531,334 women live below the national poverty line. Women entrepreneurs face barriers in accessing capital and credit, limiting the generation of income and provision of improved health and well-being for their families. Without access to income, women are powerless in their home.

Women Empowered promotes the economic and social empowerment of women through the formation of self-managed and self-sustaining savings groups. It addresses women’s lack of power over household assets and income and gaps in available financing for poor female entrepreneurs. By organizing vulnerable women into economic and social empowerment groups and providing training in financial management, entrepreneurship and leadership development, Women Empowered encourages women to meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest, pool their limited financial resources, plan for the future and problem solve together.

The Women Empowered strategy builds off of the success of Care International’s pioneering work with village savings and loan (VSL) groups. The program has grown steadily to 12 countries with more than 35,000 participants, embracing ‘Continuous Improvement’ in order to integrate lessons learned into improved future expansion. In Ethiopia in 2008, 73% of women felt empowered to change their lives after joining a WE group, compared to only 18% before participation. In 2014, these well-established groups are still mobilizing community resources and are actively addressing issues affecting their community. Women Empowered participants created 926 individual and 61 group businesses, bolstering their income and control over finances.

Investing in empowering a woman is a multi-generational, high-yield investment with multiplied impact. Women become emboldened as leaders, with confidence, vision and resolve to transform their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. Women start to have more control over their children’s education and nutrition, and over long-term financial planning for an improved family future.

Sarah Emerson
Program Director

See the 2017 Classy Award Winners

Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network

Polaris Project


According to the International Labor Organization, women and girls make up 55% of the world’s 20.9 million forced labor victims. As a human rights abuse affecting all nations, human trafficking evolves in response to changing market dynamics. Victims often lack a safe avenue to seek help, while law enforcement and service providers remain ill-prepared to identify and support victims. Information and resources in the anti-trafficking field are fragmented and under-developed, impeding a comprehensive response to victim needs.

Building off the success of the U.S. national hotline on trafficking, Polaris Project’s Global Hotlines Program connects diverse organizations and professionals working on human trafficking around the world to develop hotline coverage worldwide in order to improve victim identification and protection; build the first global anti-trafficking hotline alliance so that service providers and law enforcement can work together to shut down exploiters and prevent victimization; and collect data to share trafficking trends and networks and inform strategic interventions.

The Global Hotlines Program leverages a decade of work transforming how communities respond to human trafficking in the U.S. through the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline. Since 2007, the NHTRC hotline has fielded more than 100,000 calls referencing more than 24,000 cases of potential trafficking; reported nearly 5,000 cases to specialized law enforcement for investigation; and trained more than 67,000 individuals on how to identify and respond to trafficking. Utilizing customized modules to enhance coordination of complex cases, streamline operations, facilitate access to critical services, and improve data collection, the NHTRC has proven successful in combating human trafficking. Polaris is applying these tools to equip hotlines and service providers worldwide.

The Global Hotlines Program will have a long term impact by providing a better understanding of where and how trafficking is happening worldwide, a strengthened global systemic response to human trafficking to better protect and serve victims, a victim-centered baseline environment established in all communities and a movement toward eradication with shared information and strategies.

Sarah Jakiel
Program Director

Girl Power Project™
Just Like My Child Foundation


There are 4 million adolescent girls in Uganda aged 10-16 who are highly vulnerable to rape, pregnancy, disease, poverty and death. Deeply embedded cultural norms in rural Uganda dictate that girls and women are submissive and restricted to domestic roles. This submissiveness perpetuates a vulnerability that allows girls to be victimized and exploited, and lessens the next generation’s chances for breaking the deadly poverty cycle.


Just Like My Child Foundation created a replicable curriculum for girls’ empowerment called the Girl Power Project™. It is a unique peer-to-peer mentoring program that teaches vulnerable adolescent girls how to avoid early pregnancy, marriage and disease, stay in school and become financially independent so they can create healthy, self-sustaining families who prosper without further aid. This comprehensive empowerment curriculum teaches knowledge & tools that girls pass on to their peers. Among a robust body of research, Nike’s Girl Effect provides current statistics and studies that prove that empowering girls is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty in the developing world, and that peer to peer mentoring is an effective strategy for empowerment.

With over 1,700 girl participants, not one has dropped out of school, and only one has become pregnant. Girls eagerly participate in the engaging workshops and clubs. Teachers report improved academic performance, classroom participation and leadership among the girls, and parents report improved behavior, hygiene and assertiveness at home. The girls themselves report heightened self-esteem, assertiveness and an improved skill set for mentoring, decision-making and goal setting. Since 2009, the program has grown to 12 communities, quadrupled the number of girl participants and expanded their boys’ component.

Empowering women and protecting their human rights is critical in alleviating poverty. Our project will provide 1 million vulnerable girls and their communities with the tools they need to enforce their human rights and break the cycle of poverty by reducing drop out rates, early pregnancy and disease transmission. These girls will go on to create healthy families who can prosper without aid.

Tessa Davis
Program Director

Half the Sky Movement: Facebook and mobile phone games
Games for Change


Significant gender gaps remain for women and girls worldwide in rights to health, education, political power and access to jobs and livelihoods, according to the World Bank and UN Millennium Development Goals. India continues to struggle to demonstrate solid progress towards Gender Parity and continues to be the lowest ranked of the BRIC economies.

Inspired by and in collaboration with authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky Movement is a global transmedia platform to promote and support the empowerment of women and girls. By producing and distributing a series of high-impact digital games on Facebook & mobile devices, Games for Change aims to generate awareness and funds for specific health and education gaps effecting women. They designed products and services that are both highly engaging and meaningful to their audiences. This is a ‘Beyond the Converted’ approach to gender inequality. Launched in 2013, the Facebook game reached more than 1.2 million players, and generated $470,000 in donations. Specifically, it triggered 250,000 book donations through Room to Read & $178,000 for urgent surgeries – all through gameplay. The game ‘9 Minutes’ was evaluated by USAID with pregnant women in India who said “the game made positive shifts in knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions.” Games for Change is able to scale in reach and resources, and secure increased financial and media support and a wide coalition of partners.

HTSM demonstrates that high quality digital games offer a unique way to reach audiences in a way that is not didactic or preachy. By playing a role and making choices, players are participating in a ‘rehearsal for life’. They experiment with scenarios and consequences that may be part of their future, and at the very least, this experience triggers reflection, debate, and a new perspective on their present situation.

Asi Burak
Program Director

Guide to Interviewing Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence


RAINN estimates there are 237,868 sexual assaults per year in the United States, with 60% going unreported. When faced with speaking out about their experience, Gender Based Violence survivors face societal stigma and shame, the threat of retribution by perpetrators or institutions wishing to bury these stories, and the high threat of unethically conducted interviews.

WITNESS’ Guide to Interviewing Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is part of an initiative to reach more video-for-change users with skills and tools by creating a range of resources tailored to the needs of gender rights networks. It serves a critical need for establishing ethical guidelines for interviewing SGBV survivors, which in turn, enables those stories to be used in effective advocacy campaigns for changing behaviors, law, and policy. The guide is available already available in six languages with more planned. A six-part video series that accompanies their written Guide provides practical tips and insight from activists, survivors and experts on interviewing techniques, creating appropriate questions, safety and security, and the effects of trauma on survivors. WITNESS has distributed the guide to targeted GBV networks and released them to the public on their website and blog. In 2013, the Guide was downloaded more than 11,000 times.

Survivors of sexualized violence do not have a one-size-fits all response to the traumatic acts they’ve endured. WITNESS’ guide for interviewing SGBV survivors takes this key fact into account and goes into depth on what I’ve found to be crucial approaches to a successful interview—for both your work and the person taking the time to speak to you.

Lauren Wolfe
Director, Women Under Siege Project

The Human Rights Experts

The Leadership Council is an honorary board comprised of a diverse group of experts that will collectively determine the winners of the CLASSY Awards in this cause sector. Their unique perspective and valuable insight establishes this recognition as one of the highest honors in the social sector.

Photo credit: PCI Global

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