7 Women Who Are Breaking the Global Glass Ceiling
7 Women Who Are Breaking the Global Glass Ceiling
It should come as no surprise that when a woman is empowered, she can achieve great things for herself, her community, and in many cases, the world. On International Women’s Day — a global event dedicated to celebrating the potential of women and girls everywhere — we’re reminded time and again why women are at the center of CARE’s work worldwide. CARE’s experience in communities around the world has shown that when barriers are lifted to allow women and girls equal access to education, resources, rights, employment and economic opportunities, the benefits are far reaching.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, expressing the strong need for gender equality today. We could not agree more. Read the stories of seven extraordinary women we admire for creating change and motivating the world to be gender inclusive.
1) Salamatou Dagnogo - Village leader from Côte d’Ivoire. Recipient of CARE’s Multiplying Impact Award for 2017
“Savings groups go beyond just saving money. They make women more autonomous over the long-term through trainings and information that help us to grow our businesses and use our voices."
- Salamatou joined a CARE sponsored Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) group as a child bride, borrowed money to buy salt, and over time, built a lucrative salt wholesale business. Today, she’s the president of a network of 200 savings groups and she mentors 40 women leaders to increase women’s financial participation and rights.
- VSLA’s, and the women who help to run them, are essential for empowering women around the world to learn new skills and invest in small businesses. Women make up half of the world’s population; yet historically, they have restricted access to the resources and opportunities that would help them contribute to their societies. CARE has found that investing in women brings about real, effective change in their communities. In Latin America, for example, increased economic activity among women from 2000 to 2010 resulted in a 30 percent reduction of extreme poverty in the country.
- Care International has worked in Cote D’Ivoire since 2000, assisting people displaced by civil unrest who lack food, water and functioning health systems.
2) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - First female president of Liberia and 2011 winner of the Nobel Peace Price
“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
- Johnson Sirleaf is a Liberian politician and economist who was the first women to be elected head of state of an African country. After traveling to the United States to study economics, business administration and public administration in the 1960’s and 70’s, Johnson Sirleaf went on to become a champion for women’s rights.
- On her last day in office, Johnson Sirleaf outlawed female genital cutting in Liberia. Three million girls a year are thought to be at risk for genital cutting.
- CARE Liberia restarted operations in September 2008 after a hiatus of about 25 years and is focusing on food and income security, with complementary projects in women’s economic empowerment, access to water and sanitation and urban and conservation agriculture.
3) Tawakkol Karman - First Yemeni, first Arab woman and second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize
"You have to be strong; you have to trust yourself that you can build a new country. You have to know that you have the ability to achieve your dream."
- Tawakkol is a journalist, activist and women’s human rights defender and the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date, at the age of 32, for her work in the peace movement and women’s equality.
- While leading demonstrations and sit-ins throughout Arab countries, Tawakkol co-founded Women Journalists Without Chains, a group dedicated to promoting freedom of expression and democratic rights.
- CARE has been active in Yemen since 1993, focusing on community self-help and women’s empowerment, including women’s literacy, water management, emergency response and relief assistance to refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
4) Maria Alabdeh - Founder and Director of Women Now for Development (WND) and recipient of CARE’s 2016 Delivering Lasting Change Award
“We are dedicated to breaking the silence and repainting the image of women as victims under circumstances of conflict - rather, we strive to show the world the strength, passion, and perseverance that we have witnessed while working alongside these women.”
- Mariah is the founder and director of Women Now for Development, an organization led by Syrian women to serve Syrian women. She has been committed to delivering lasting solutions to those impacted by the Syrian conflict, while also advocating for their rights and needs.
- WND is the largest women’s organization working to empower Syrian women and strengthen women’s political, social and economic participation. Research shows that when women and girls have equal access to education, resources, rights, employment and economic opportunities, the benefits are far reaching.
- CARE is providing humanitarian assistance in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria, where currently more than 13.5 million Syrians have been displaced by intense conflict or are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. CARE is also collaborating on a project with WND to support a women’s empowerment center that offers education, vocational training and psychosocial support.
5) Breanne Butler - Chef, advocate and Co-founder and Director of Capactiy Building for the Women's March
“We’ve built this network and we’re going to continue to support them and get involved and advocate because if we can protect our rights as women, then we can see change happen in the world.”
- Butler started her illustrious career as a chef after receiving a scholarship to attend Macomb Culinary Institute during her senior year in high school, and graduating the program at just 20 years old. Since then, she has worked as a pastry sous chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant Rouge Tomate and as Facebook NY’s executive pastry chef.
- Butler is a vocal advocate for women and diversity in the restaurant industry, and works on the board of the Women’s March to help organize and support nearly 400 sister marches worldwide, and ensure advocates, both women and men, have the resources and confidence they need to make a difference. Butler is also the founder and CEO of her own business, ‘by Breanne.’
- Like Butler, CARE advocates for women and girls everywhere so they can have equal access to educational, occupational and economic opportunities, regardless of their gender. CARE knows that empowering women’s voices around the world can have far-reaching benefits.
6) Marah Zahalka – Race car driver, member of Speed Sisters, first all-female car-racing team in the Middle East, and recipient of CARE’s 2016 I Am Powerful Award
“My message to women and girls around the world is that as long as you have a dream, you can look beyond the political and social barriers put in place by the people around you.”
- Zahalka grew up in the Jenin Refugee camp in Palestine and learned to drive at age 11 by tagging along when her mother taught driving lessons. Marah is featured in the documentary, Speed Sisters, which follows the all-female team as they face the challenges of living and racing under occupation.
- Zahalka’s journey as a race car driver has defied both gender stereotypes and political challenges in her home country. Throughout her experiences, Zahalka has remained positive and determined to use her voice and passion for race car driving to inspire young women everywhere to achieve their dreams in the face of challenges.
- CARE programs provided Zahalka with financial support to pursue her passion and a role as a CARE ambassador to encourage girls in the next generation to reach for their dreams.
7) Maria Landa - General Manager, Santa Maria Industries, Peru and recipient of a CARE Microlan
“Once when I was working, a father walked by with his children, and he stopped to tell them, ‘Look at this woman. She can do it, and so can you!’”
- Landa’s busy welding company lies on the outskirts of Lima, where she was the country’s first-known female welder. Traditional banks wouldn’t loan her money to start her own metal work business because she was a woman.
- When Landa eventually received a $10,000 small business loan through a CARE microfinance program, her business took off. Soon Santa Maria Industries was a growing metal work business so successful that Fortune and McKinsey & Company invited her to speak at global seminars. After 2007’s 8.0 earthquake left 40,000 homeless in Pisco, Peru, Landa built more than 1,000 tents for homeless families and 100 school tents.
- CARE has been in Peru since 1952, providing development programming and disaster relief. Currently, CARE Peru is focused on empowering vulnerable groups, especially women, indigenous groups and rural populations, to exercise their rights.
Looking to take action for women and girls around the world? Here's six ways you can help women break ceilings everywhere:
- Become a member of the CARE Action Network and advocate for women and girls who live in poverty in developing countries.
- Find, follow and share CARE Action on Facebook and Twitter. Spread the word with your friends that it's time to raise the bar for women and girls.
- Sign this petition to call for new international standards to end workplace violence and harassment.
- Visit care.org/thisisnotworking to learn about CARE and CARE Action's global campaign to end sexual violence and harassment in the workplace. Find out why we're advocating for women at work and read stories from women around the world.
- Get involved and raise your voice in the 2018 midterm elections to shape candidate's views on important issues like women's rights and violence against women. Together, we can elect champions for women and girls.
- Register to attend the CARE National Conference, in Washington DC, May 21 – 23 to learn, be inspired and advocate on Capitol Hill on important issues with hundreds of other CARE supporters.