October 26, 2016
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White House Calls For Innovative Ideas To Empower Women And Girls


More than thirty years ago, a young economist Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh lent $27 out of his own pocket to a group of poor craftsmen in a small town. It never occurred to him that the small loan would inspire a whole new lending practice that lifts people out of poverty and empowers women, propelling him to become a Nobel Peace Laureate in 2005.

Recognizing what a truly innovative idea can do to promote social and human progress, the Office of Global Women's Issues of the U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation, launched the Secretary's Innovation Fund for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, also known as the Innovation Award. The Innovation Award will spotlight and bring to scale the most pioneering approaches to the political, economic and social empowerment of women and girls around the globe.

If you have a proven solution that can address one of the challenges facing women and girls and empower them, send us a concept paper telling us how it works by June 21, 2010. Thanks to the generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation, the innovators with the best two proposals (recommended by an esteemed jury including Cherie Blair, Beth Brooke, Paul Farmer, Noeleen Heyzer, Anne Mulcahy, Sheryl Sandberg, Sheryl WuDunn, and Muhammad Yunus) will receive up to $500,000 each with which to take their projects to scale.

Innovating towards gender equality is one of the most effective and efficient means of improving international development, prosperity, stability, and security. And it’s fun! We hope you participate in these new initiatives and encourage others to do so as well. Learn more about the award and how to submit your idea on the State Department's website.

Wenchi Yu is Policy Advisor for the Secretary of State's Office of Global Women's Issues and represents the State Department on the White House Council on Women and Girls 

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