Friday, March 26, 2021

Feel Good Friday - WP Theater

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let’s spend this Feel Good Friday with women in theater!

WP Theater was founded by Julia Miles in 1978 as Women’s Project Theater. It is “the nation’s oldest and largest theater company dedicated to developing, producing, and promoting the work of women and trans theater artists at every stage of their careers.” 

One of the ways WP Theater promotes these artists is through the Lab, a two-year residency for playwrights, directors and producers. Participants are provided with entrepreneurial and leadership training, rehearsal space, a professional network and the opportunity to develop and produce their work for the stage. Each Lab residency culminates with the Pipeline Festival. This biennial festival features five new plays written, directed and produced by the residents. Over 350 artists have participated in the program and shared their finished work with the world.


More recently, Trans Lab was formed to support the creation of a critical mass of trans and gender nonconforming plays by trans and gender nonconforming writers. This year-long program provides participants with professional development sessions and culminates in a series of readings of the works developed in the lab.


To date, WP Theater has produced over 600 mainstage productions and developmental projects and their work has continued throughout the pandemic. The 2020-2021 season is taking place on the virtual stage with monthly presentations of new work. If you’re reading this before 3:30pm Pacific, you can catch a rebroadcast of Galatea, “a trans love story set against the backdrop of a climate crisis.” Next on the calendar is Weightless, a visual concept album that tells the story of two sisters and their journey to reunite. 

If you’re interested in these shows you can buy tickets here. You can also support the work of WP Theater by making a donation and spreading the word on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @WPTheater. Brava!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Women's Global Empowerment Fund

In today’s Feel Good Friday, we take a trip to Northern Uganda to visit Women’s Global Empowerment Fund.

Founded in 2007 by Karen Sugar, the mission of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF) is “to support women through economic, social and political programs, creating opportunities while addressing inequality; strengthening families and communities.”


WGEF is a microfinance non-profit working in Northern Uganda, a post-conflict region recovering from a 25-year violent insurgency which left the region unstable and lacking in economic activity. WGEF helps women who were forced to become child soldiers or sex slaves during the conflict by providing economic, social and political opportunities for sustainability and self-determination. You can read stories about some of the WGEF clients here.


Programs run by WGEF include Credit Plus, a service that “combines microcredit services with literacy, leadership development, health initiatives and basic business education.” Since WGEF’s founding, over 10,000 women in poor or rural areas have been given microcredit loans. A subsection of these loans focus on agriculture and provide women additional training and support to plant, grow and harvest their crops.


The Gulu Women’s Resource Center is a community meeting space where women are provided with computer and life skills training. It also houses the Access to Justice team which addresses violence against women, gender bias and inequality by sharing information and resources and helping women file reports and advocating for them during court proceedings. 


Additional programs include leadership development, literacy training and my favorite, a drama festival where women create original plays focused on issues such as inequality, HIV or violence, and use them as a way to educate men and community leaders about these issues


Details about all of the programs can be found at this link and you can hear directly from participants about their experiences at this link. If you want to support the work of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, make a donation and spread the word by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @wgefund.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Feel Good Friday - CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education)

Welcome to another Feel Good Friday during Women’s History Month! Today we’re celebrating by focusing on an organization that works with girls, CAMFED. 

Founded in 1993, CAMFED is the Campaign for Female Education. As they explain on their website, “we catalyze the power of the most vulnerable girls and young women to create the future they imagine — for themselves, for their communities, and for Africa.


Wondering why the focus on girls’ education? Because investing in girls improves the health and wealth of both the girls and their communities. According to the statistics, a girl who receives an education earns 25% more per year of secondary school, will invest 90% of her earnings in her family and is 3 times less likely to become HIV positive. Learn more in this short intro video.


CAMFED works in sub-Saharan Africa where 52.2 million girls are excluded from education. They partner with 6,853 government schools in some of the poorest districts in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi. It’s the communities in those districts who select the children most in need to participate in CAMFED’s programs. These girls receive help with books, school fees, uniforms, sanitary protection, mentoring and social support. To date CAMFED has helped 4.1 million students go to primary and secondary school.


Once girls graduate, they can join the CAMFED Association (CAMA) to volunteer in schools as learner guides, become mentors, rally community support for other girls or help monitor CAMFED programs. CAMA has been in place since 1998 and has grown into a network of 157,000 women leaders educated with CAMFED support. 


In addition to all of this, CAMFED also works with communities to design and implement their programs, train teacher mentors, provide school equipment and establish parent support groups. Check out this page of short films to hear directly from participants and learn more about CAMFED’s impact. 


If you want to support the work CAMFED is doing to educate young girls in Africa you can make a donation and amplify their message by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter@Camfed.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Girl Effect

It’s the first Feel Good Friday in Women’s History Month and we’re kicking it off with Girl Effect, an organization that “uses the power of media to unlock the power of girls.”

Founded in 2004 by the Nike Foundation, Girl Effect works “to support adolescent girls in low and middle income countries through a stage in life that defines their future. We support girls to make choices for themselves so they are healthier, more educated and financially secure. To do this we create safe spaces for girls to find information and advice, online and in their communities. We answer girls’ curiosities, questions and concerns through our content and products, and connect girls to services that help them take control of their bodies and their lives.”

The problem Girl Effect is addressing is outlined in this 3-minute video. When a girl turns 12 and lives in poverty she’s often seen as a woman and more likely to spend her teenage years getting married and having children rather than staying in school and getting an education. While there are many services available for girls, often they are not used because girls don’t see the services as being “for them”. 


To counter this perception, Girl Effect works with partners in more than 50 countries in Africa and Asia to develop youth brands that shine a light on issues girls are facing by telling girls’ stories in their own words. Girl Effect also use mobile technology to connect marginalized and vulnerable girls around the world. The content Girl Effect creates helps girls build confidence to make choices and changes in their lives so that “every girl can choose to be in control of her body, her health, her learning and livelihood.”


Examples of the work they do includes the Hear Her Voice project where Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors, aged 18-24, have interviewed over 15,000 girls and share their stories online. You can watch those videos here. There is also a chat bot powered by artificial intelligence called Big Sis, which gives girls a safe, private, non-judgmental and accurate source for information on topics that they don’t feel comfortable discussing elsewhere. Since its inception in 2018, Big Sis has reached 10.8 million girls. 


Overall, by working with their in-country partners, Girl Effect’s youth brands and mobile platforms reach an estimated 29 million people a year in over 50 countries! 

If you’d like to help Girl Effect create a future where girls are healthier, more educated, and more economically secure, you can make a donation and spread the word by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @girleffect.  #TheGirlEffect