A billion dollars raised for gender equality and poverty reduction

WASHINGTON, DC – A unique partnership of internationally focused development, faith and women’s organizations announced it had raised a billion dollars for investing in women and girls around the world as a key strategy for ending global poverty.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu criticized organized religion for “failing to champion the cause of women and girls,” adding that religion has “too often been used to oppress women.” Speaking by video to a packed congregation at the huge National Cathedral in Washington DC, the Nobel Peace Laureate said religious leaders had “too often not named or failed to condemn” such discriminatory practices as child marriage, female genital mutilation and violence against women.

The former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, said the Breakthrough Summit: Women, Faith and Development Alliance, was a “call to action” to fully integrate gender equality and ensure the needs and outcomes for both men and women are incorporated in policies, practice, programs and legislation. Robinson, the former UN human rights chief, added the alliance wanted to enable countries to meet the third Millennium Development Goal of gender equality.

Some 70 organizations have committed to providing a billion dollars worth of funded programs in support of gender equality and poverty reduction. InterAction – which comprises more than 160 of the leading US development and humanitarian organizations – Women’s Edge and Religions for Peace are the founding partners of the alliance with the Washington National Cathedral.

Lelei LeLaulu, an InterAction board director and president of Counterpart International, said “since Counterpart’s formation in 1965, we have based our work on the conviction that giving women access to the tools they need for development enables them to build lives of dignity for themselves, their families, their communities and their nations.”

LeLaulu, selected by the Women, Faith and Development Alliance (WFDA) to serve on the Leadership Council for the Breakthrough Summit, told reporters that 70% of the world’s poorest are women so “doing the right thing by women is not only a development priority, it is also a moral imperative.”

The Breakthrough Summit brings needed attention to a valuable part of society. “Women are not only the keepers of faith, nurturing meaning, purpose and value which believing in a higher being gives, but they are also the center of charity, and they power the engines of hope in communities,” said LeLaulu who is also Chairman of the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International.

With more than 150 members, the Leadership Council includes former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Africare, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Children’s Defense Fund, Christian Children’s Fund, Counterpart International, Grameen Bank, Islamic Call Society, NOW, Rockefeller Foundation, Save the Children, UNFPA, The Union for Reform Judaism, United Way, World Bank, World Council of Churches, World Vision, and other key players in the international community.

Related Articles

Back to top button