Mar 4, 2014 KV Kiva HQ
By Aurora Lee
Empowering Women to Make It Happen
It’s a hectic morning. It’s pouring rain. Dishes are piled in the sink. You’re running late so you check the traffic report online, turn to throw the dishes in the dishwasher then hop in the car and flick on your windshield wipers. But what if you couldn’t? All these modern necessities (dishwasher, windshield wipers, the computer), conveniences that have wormed their way permanently into our lives, were made possible by female inventors!
 
Women make amazing things happen, every day, often without much recognition. International Women’s Day is this Saturday, March 8th and it presents an amazing opportunity to reflect on how women are continually contributing to their families, communities and world. 
 
Sometimes it’s as inventors and great thinkers, and sometimes as heads of their households who need to make brave decisions because their families are depending on them. 
 
Martha started her bodaboda (motorcycle taxi) business to provide for her children.

 
Martha in Kenya lost her husband a few years ago and was left with four children to support. Because taxi drivers in her community are always in high demand her decision to buy a motorcycle and join their ranks seemed intuitive. Her friends and family worried about her embarking on a career in a male-dominated field, but Martha considered that a low priority; she was much more concerned with how to service her bike so she could maintain her steady stream of income. Not to be deterred, she applied for a loan through Kiva Zip and now has the safety equipment and spare parts she needs to keep her business running.
 
Women around the world are making their mark in business, but are also consistently changemakers in their communities. 
 
Ebby demonstrates how to effectively use the chlorine dispenser to disinfect water.

 
The Chebunayu community in Kenya had only one source of water that was frequently contaminated and making villagers sick. When a Kiva loan was used to install a chlorine dispenser to purify the community’s water source, group of five volunteer women charged themselves with ensuring that the filter remailed well-stocked and that families knew how to use it. 
 
Women taking the initiative to keep their communities safe and healthy is a well documented pattern, like in India where areas with female-led local councils have 62% more drinking water projects than similar areas with male-led councils.
 
As we mark International Women’s Day this week, let’s take a moment to appreciate how powerful a force women are, how they are already making things happen and how giving them more support will amplify their positive impact. 
 
According to the UN, global undernourishment could be decreased by up to 150 million people a year if female farmers had access to the same quality seeds, fertilizer and technology that men do. Can you image if those results were applied across other industries? This is an opportunity to take this progress, build on it and give women the support they deserve to keep doing great things.


 

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Aurora hails from New England and has a background in communications, systems management and economic development. She first realized her passion for nonprofits leveraging social media while working in web communications at MSF. She is incredibly excited to join the content team at Kiva and explore the juncture of technology and international development more thoroughly. She spent nearly a year working in Tanzania with students and was lucky enough to witness the spirit of small-scale entrepreneurship and how it impacts communities firsthand. She holds a BA from Princeton University where she concentrated in politics and was a member of the varsity swimming and diving team. Aurora is a long-suffering, occasionally jubilant, Arsenal fan and copes with being dog-less by volunteering at the SF SPCA.

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