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National NOW Times >> Fall 2004 >> Article

NOW Joins Million Women Challenge

by Kourtney Stamps, Communications Intern

Striving to advance women's rights around the world, NOW has signed on to the Million Women Challenge, a program launched by the Women's Edge Coalition, of which NOW is a member. Women's Edge, a non-partisan coalition created in 1998, advocates for international economic policies and human rights campaigns that support global women's efforts to alleviate poverty in their communities.

The Million Women Challenge was designed to educate people in the United States about issues that women in poverty-stricken areas of the world face on a daily basis, so that they might bring those issues into public discussion in the U.S. A better, safer world is the goal of the campaign. "What happens in other parts of the world affects us here in the United States," Ritu Sharma, executive director said. "And what we do at home also has a profound effect on how others around the world live. When we invest in women globally, all of us—men, women, children, rich, and poor—benefit from a more stable, just, and peaceful world."

The Million Women Challenge empowers participants by educating them on twelve universal issues of concern. These issues include global women's economic equality, health care, education, trade and violence. The campaign's Global Issues Guide also offers a glimpse into the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically the importance of including women in the reconstruction process and making sure women's equality is not neglected as these countries emerge from international conflict.

After familiarizing themselves with the campaign's Global Issues Guide, participants in the Million Women Challenge can use the Action Toolkit. This toolkit acts as a "how-to" guide, equipping participants with the information and resources they need to address global issues within their local communities. They are encouraged to start conversations with family members and friends, public officials, and government representatives about global women's issues. To continue spreading the word throughout their communities, they can write a letter to the editor of their local newspaper, host a house party, or speak at a local club or school.

A major aspect of the Million Women Challenge is to encourage participants to build coalitions within their communities so that local and state representatives cannot ignore the issues facing global women in poverty.

"Feminists must raise our voices to better the lives of women around the globe," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "If we truly want to help our sisters worldwide we must first lift them out of poverty and expand their opportunities."

For more information on the Million Women Challenge, visit the Women's Edge Coalition's website.

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