International Women’s Day 2021
Today is International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge: a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. Today, we want to highlight some of the incredible women and women-led organisations challenging the status quo and creating change in our world.
Ntombenqaba Precious Petros
Ntombenqaba Precious Petros is a co-founder of the Masakhe Community Development Programme, a community self-empowerment organisation in South Africa that supports its members to find steady employment, works to improve literacy and English language skills, and runs a number of support groups, including for young mothers with HIV and for working grandmothers caring for orphaned children. Many of those Masakhe supports are young women or single mothers at risk from drug and alcohol abuse.
Precious’ personal motivation comes from the people she works to support and “their eagerness to do something different and learn new skills, or support others – regardless of their own situation.” She credits her own mother, a woman who focused “supporting others who were less fortunate” as her biggest source of inspiration.
Refuge is the very definition of an organisation that chooses to challenge. It was established in 1971 in London as the world’s first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence. At that point in time, domestic violence was viewed as a private matter to be dealt with behind closed doors, and something to which society turned a blind eye. Refuge was instrumental in beginning to change that view.
Refuge is a women-led organisation that has grown to become the UK’s largest single provider of specialist domestic and gender-based violence services. On any given day, Refuge supports up to 6,000 women and children and now offers a suite of support services ranging from culturally-specific to child support and advocacy and community services.
Sofia Breitholtz is the CEO of Reach for Change, a global movement of social entrepreneurs creating a better world for children and young people, and one of Sweden’s fastest-growing non-profit organisations. Sofia is an activist at heart who has spent more than a decade in the social change sphere and believes in the power of bringing diverse sectors and perspectives together to solve global challenges.
Sofia also serves as vice chairman of Project Playground which works using educational, recreational, and supportive programmes to empower vulnerable children and youth. There, she contributes on matters of governance, organisational development, fundraising, and strategy.
Mama Cash is a Dutch organisation that supports women, girls, and trans and intersex people who fight for their rights. Mama Cash is a driving force behind feminist activism, supporting more than 130 organisations, networks, and women’s funds each year. Since its inception in 1983, Mama Cash has distributed nearly €60 million in grants.
Mama Cash focuses on women, girls, trans people, and intersex people who get pushed to the margins of their communities and who take a stand against that marginalisation such as girls working in garment production who say no to exploitation, indigenous women opposing the multinational companies that destroy their homes and the environment, or sex workers who fight back against sexual harassment and police violence.
Launched in 2020 in response to the challenges of Covid-19, FemMentored is an online mentoring community created to bring together women from the social impact space to share, connect with, and uplift one another.
Founders Lou Lai and Rebecca Elcome host monthly meet-ups featuring inspiring lightning talks and peer learning opportunities, tackling themes such as the challenges of leadership, imposter syndrome, managing overwhelm and wellbeing. A one-to-one mentoring programme launches later this month.