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Empower the World's Women & Girls
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1/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Licia Ronzulli

An Italian member of the European Parliament, Licia Ronzulli calls herself “ma prima di tutto mamma” (first of all: mom!) on Twitter, and this photo shows exactly why. An advocate for paid maternity leave, Ronzulli has brought her daughter to work since she was just six weeks old. Here, she and little Victoria vote during an October 2012 session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. [Gallery by Megan Bedard]

2/1311 Powerful Images of Women
U.S. Women in Combat

Women have long argued they were fit to fight on the front lines. In January 2013 they got their wish when the ban on women serving in combat positions was formally lifted. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said women had become an “integral part” of the military and had already shown their willingness to fight.

3/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Malala Yousafzai

On October 19, 2012, 15-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban while riding on a school bus in the Swat valley. She had been advocating for girls’ education and rights, which have been obstructed and violated by the Taliban. In response to the shooting, U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched the “I am Malala” campaign, calling for education for all children worldwide by the end of 2015. Yousafzai was in critical condition for several days following the assassination attempt. But in this photograph from January, she is seen walking out of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to continue her recovery at home. In February she became the youngest person nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

4/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Pussy Riot

After members of Russian punk-rock group Pussy Riot performed an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral, they were convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. In this June 2012 photo, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova shows that even prison bars cannot stop free speech.

5/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Missy Franklin

Seventeen-year-old American swimmer Missy Franklin not only won four Olympic gold medals and a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, but she also snagged the world record in the 200-meter backstroke, coming in at 2:04.06. Here she is congratulated by her teammate Elizabeth Beisel as they learn that Franklin has broken the record.

6/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Fatou Bensouda

Fatou Bensouda is not only the first female chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court but also the first African to head a team of prosecutors at tribunal. She was sworn into the ICC in June 2012, when the Court was investigating 15 cases in seven countries, all of them in Africa. Here, she takes her oath before ICC judges and foreign diplomats, vowing to pursue criminals wanted for crimes against humanity.

7/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Sandra Fluke

When radio pundit Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” for speaking publicly about the difficulties of not having birth control coverage under her university health insurance, she refused to be shamed. Soon after, in September 2012, she spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, telling the audience that America could be “a country that honors our foremothers by moving us forward, or one that forces our generation to re-fight the battles they already won.”

8/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Solar Engineer Grandmas

Each year Barefoot College in Tilonia, India, trains 100 illiterate and semi-illiterate grandmothers from rural India and 80 more from around the world to be solar engineers. When the women return from this UN Women-backed program to their villages, they are prepared to integrate solar technology—solar home units, water heaters, solar cookers, etc.—into their communities, to perform maintenance, to teach the skills to other village women, and to manage the finances for their own local solar workshops. The woman here was photographed during a six-month program in March 2012 that included women from countries such as Uganda, Liberia, and South Sudan.

9/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Gabrielle Giffords was hosting a constituent event in Tucson, AZ when she was shot in the head at close range. The massacre left six dead and 12 others injured. After two years of rehabilitation, former congresswoman Giffords holds the hand of her husband and gives testimony at the Senate Judiciary hearing on gun violence on January 30, 2013, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shootings.

10/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Aung San Suu Kyi

In November 2010, fearless Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, where she had spent 15 of the past 21 years. Suu Kyi has labored relentlessly to oppose the military rule of Burma and elevate her country’s troubles to the global stage. Despite government hostility, in April of 2012, her election to the lower house of Parliament was acknowledged. In June she was able to travel to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to her in 1991. And three months later she traveled to the United States, where she met the President and received the Congressional Medal of Honor, which had been conferred to her in 2008. On a six-day visit to India in November, the peace activist throws rose petals at Rajghat, the Memorial to Gandhi.

11/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Indian Protesters

The gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student and her subsequent death at the end of 2012 prompted massive demonstrations in New Delhi against the rampant sexual abuse of women there and the lenient justice system that tolerates it. The demonstrations spread through India, then on to Pakistan, Nepal, and other nations. Globally, one out of every three women will suffer physical or sexual abuse. As a result of public outcry, the Indian government has set up fast-track courts to administer swift justice to rape offenders. Pictured here, the All India Democratic Students’ Organization take part in a December demonstration in Ahmedabad.

12/1311 Powerful Images of Women
Take Part

“The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) is one of the most important actions the U.S. government can take to help end violence like rape, domestic abuse, and so-called ‘honor’ killings,” says Ritu Sharma, cofounder and president of Women Thrive Worldwide, a nonprofit advocacy organization in D.C. “In some countries around the world, upwards of 70 percent of women experience violence. It’s just not an option for us to stand by and do nothing.” Luckily, the current Administration has enacted some of IVAWA’s core elements, but groups like Women Thrive are committed to seeing the whole Act passed. Join them by contacting your representative.

13/1311 Powerful Images of Women
More Great Reading

Rosa Parks is set to become the first African-American woman to be enshrined in Capitol Hill’s gallery of honor later this year. Find out which other 11 leading ladies we think need statues there too.

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    1/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Burst Basket

    Add a bright burst to any room with this basket from Indego Africa, a fair-trade nonprofit that invests 100 percent of its profits into financial, business, and literacy training for its artisans. Your basket will arrive with a hangtag signed by the woman in Rwanda who created it. [Gallery by Heather York.]

    2/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Classic Fold-Over Clutch

    Prepare to be asked where you got that great bag. Your answer: Mercado Global, a fair-trade nonprofit that helps over 400 women artisans earn a living wage in 30 communities across Guatemala, which has the fourth-highest malnutrition rate in the world and where each child attends school for an average of only 1.3 years. Your purchase will help a lot of moms and kiddos.

    3/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Paper Bead Necklace

    This dayglo multi-strand necklace made of paper beads rocks our world, and it comes in so many wonderful colors. Beads like these are so chich they’ve been showcased at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, Italy. And more importantly, this accessory was created by a beader group connected with Outreach Uganda, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Ugandans to rise out of poverty.

    4/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Hot Water Bottle Cozies

    Cute is not a word usually associated with hot waters bottles—until now. These adorable cozies, knit by a collective of older women from their homes in South Africa, come to market through Global Girlfriend, a fair-trade nonprofit that supports women worldwide to create eco-friendly products that address local environmental issues, “producing healthier children, rivers, skies, and world.” They direct their profits to the Campaign for Female Education.

    5/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Telephone Wire Bracelets

    Looking for an accessory to pump up your style? Try these colorful, chunky, distinctive bracelets, recently featured by Diane Von Furstenberg at Fashion Week. They’re made by the Zulu women artisans of the Bartel Arts Trust in South Africa and brought to market by Gifts With Humanity, founded a decade ago in a home garage and now a $1 million a year outlet for fair-trade handicrafts around the world.

    6/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Evening Survival Kit

    Grab it and go—and support four amazing charities. The Evening Survival Kit by Thistle Farms comes inside a beautiful printed clutch produced by women at the Lwala Sewing Cooperative in Kenya. You’ll find a small bottle of Geranium Field Scented Oil produced by IKIREZI, a farming co-op that helps widows and orphans of the Rwandan genocide; two beaded bracelets from ABAN, an enterprise that helps young women in Ghana coming off the streets; and a Pomegranate Lip Smoothie made by the women of Thistle Farms, a supportive community for survivors of prostitution and trafficking now living in the Southeastern U.S.

    7/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Soda Bottle Candle

    They started as soda bottles. Now they’re retro-tastic holders for candles with delightful scents such as white ginger tea. After a few evenings lighting your home and charming guests, they become stylish drinking glasses. And their usefulness doesn’t end there. Every Recycled Soda Bottle Candle you buy supports Prosperity Candle, a nonprofit that trains women to become candle makers then helps them launch their own businesses. Beginning with a 2008 pilot program in Iraq, the organization is now making headway in Haiti, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Kenya, Congo, and with Burmese refugees in Springfield, Massachusetts. Each candle arrives with a story of the woman who made it.

    8/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Sliver-Beaded Bracelets

    Wear these chic bracelets individually or weave them together. Made of silver beads braided into beige, black, or brown wax thread, these tasteful bangles are created by women artisans in Guatemala and distributed by Global Goods Partners, a nonprofit that’s been working with marginalized communities around the world to bring handmade, fair-trade products to market since 2005. They’ve been featured in Daily Candy, Marie Claire, and O magazine.

    9/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Teal Scarf

    Make any outfit pop with this beautiful teal print scarf. Your purchase will support the women of Marketplace: Handwork of India, a network of 480 artisans in 14 co-operatives across India.

    10/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Raindrop Earrings

    These delicate earrings are created by skilled Javanese silversmiths, who learned the craft as it was passed down through generations. The Women’s Peace Collection bringing these earrings to you is a fair-trade enterprise supporting women in regions of conflict and post-conflict. Buy this treasure in a gift box tied with a bow and a small copper bell made from a landmine shell.

    11/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    Take Part

    Around the world, women are disproportionately affected by war, poverty, and disease. They comprise 70 percent of the poor and own one percent of titled land. And almost every minute, a woman dies from complications related to childbirth. You can help empower women and girls all over the world by buying your gifts from this list and taking these actions.

    12/1210 Gifts That Empower Women
    More Great Reading

    Around the world, girls face barriers to education that boys don’t. But when you educate a girl, you can break cycles of poverty in just one generation. Take a look at these 10 Must-Read Facts on the Impact of Girls’ Education on girls, families, communities, countries, and the world.

    When Women Help Girls
    Watch

    Girl Rising

    From Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins, an innovative film about the power of education to change a girl—and the world. Now in theaters. Visit girlrising.com to learn how to bring this film to your local theater.
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    Girl Rising

    From Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins, an innovative film about the power of education to change a girl—and the world. Now in theaters. Visit girlrising.com to learn how to bring this film to your local theater.
    Poll
    Watch

    One Woman

    UN Women’s new theme song, "One Woman," features 25 musicians from around the world. The anthem calls for change and celebrates the courage and determination of ordinary women who make extraordinary contributions to their communities every day.
    Share This

    One Woman

    UN Women’s new theme song, "One Woman," features 25 musicians from around the world. The anthem calls for change and celebrates the courage and determination of ordinary women who make extraordinary contributions to their communities every day.
    Empower Women Worldwide
    Around the world, women are disproportionately affected by war, poverty, and disease. They comprise 70% of the poor and own only 1% of titled land. Give these women the tools to succeed and they’ll thrive! Find out what you can do to help now.
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