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Kavita Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women
State of Women in political power
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September 25, 2009

Kavita Ramdas is the president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, the largest grant-making foundation focused exclusively on women's rights issues. The fund has given more than $71 million to thousands of organizations in 167 countries. She talked with Lynn Sherr about her work as "a social venture capitalist" and the changes that can be wrought with an investment in women:
We've contributed to changes that these extraordinary women were making on their own anyway. I think what our investment did was to say, "We believe in you. We stand with you. And we're willing to vouch for you to others."
Many other organizations now join the Global Fund for Women in making women's economic well-being a top priority — Women for Women International, Women Moving Millions, The Women's Funding Network, The Clinton Global Initiative and many other philanthropic organizations, as well as governmental organizations and private businesses such as Goldman Sachs and J.P.Morgan. Global Fund for Women

The Global Fund for Women's grants range from a few hundred dollars to help a woman start a business to a half-million dollar global initiative to support women combatting gender-based violence. Explore a few of their initiatives below:
  • Afghan Institute for Learning: An early investment that the Global Fund for Women made was $5,000 in the Afghan Institute for Learning, which was then running underground schools inside Taliban-led Afghanistan. Today it is reaching 350,000 girls and boys, across the country. The institute also conducts human rights workshops for women in Afghanistan and runs maternal health clinics.
  • The Girl Child Network: Four Zimbabwean girls and their teacher Betty Makoni founded a place where girls can come and talk about why there is such rampant sexual abuse in the schools in Zimbabwe. By 2000, they had a national campaign raising awareness around child abuse and sexual abuse in schools. And the government of Zimbabwe was forced to change the law that actually makes it much more difficult for perpetrators of sexual abuse in schools to get away with it.
  • Human Trafficking: Since 1987, the Global Fund for Women has awarded more than 3 million dollars to 300 groups in 71 countries which work to prevent or stop trafficking. In 2006-07 alone, the Global Fund provided over $800,000 in anti-trafficking grants.
>More on the global status of women.

Kavita N. Ramdas

Kavita N. Ramdas has served as president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women since 1996. She has dedicated herself to empowering women worldwide with the financial resources to increase girls' access to education, defend women's right to health and reproductive rights, prevent violence against women and advance women's political participation, as well as other vital issues. Ramdas has served on the boards of the Women's Funding Network, the Women's Rights Prize of the Gruber Foundation and the Ethical Globalization Initiative. She is the recipient of numerous philanthropic and leadership awards, including most recently, the Haridas and Bina Chaudhuri Award for Distinguished Service presented by the California Institute of Integrated Studies (CIIS). Kavita recently joined the Global Development Advisory Panel of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Advisory Panel of the Asian University for Women and the board of trustees of Princeton University.

Lynn Sherr
Photo by Robin HollandAward-winning journalist Lynn Sherr joined ABC's 20/20 as a correspondent in May 1986. She has covered a wide range of stories, specializing in women's issues and social changes, as well as investigative reports. Prior to her assignment at 20/20, Sherr was a national correspondent for ABC News since 1982 and a general assignment correspondent since 1977. Lynn Sherr has reported on Latin America, Liberia and Greece for the PBS program WORLDFOCUS. Also for PBS, Sherr hosted the special "Tall Blondes" for NATURE, about giraffes and wrote a book of the same title. She is the author of FAILURE IS IMPOSSIBLE: SUSAN B. ANTHONY IN HER OWN WORDS and co-editor of PETER JENNINGS: A REPORTER'S LIFE. Her most recent book, a memoir — OUTSIDE THE BOX: MY UNSCRIPTED LIFE OF LOVE, LOSS AND TELEVISION NEWS — is out in paperback.

  • "Global Power Gals," THE DAILY BEAST, September 23, 2009. Read Lynn Sherr's blog about The Clinton Global Initiative meeting.
  • Lynn Sherr's WORLDFOCUS reports on Liberia
  • More about Lynn Sherr from ABC
  • "Tall Blondes" on NATURE

    Photos by Robin Holland.
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