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Good schools aren't good enough

October 4, 2019

Zoya Lytvyn stands on a stage in front of a crowd at the Trailblazing Women Reception.Zoya Lytvyn knows that the best investment that a government can make for its citizens is in its education system.

That’s why she's changing the way Ukraine educates its children. She founded Novopecherska School — a K-12 school serving 500 children with its own unique curriculum developed by experts from the Netherlands, Great Britain and Canada to combine Ukrainian national standards with international cutting-edge teaching techniques.

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WE Empower awardees convene in New York City

October 4, 2019

All five WE Empower awardees stand on stage at pitch night hosted in New York City.The five awardees of the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge convened in New York this month for a packed week of training, networking opportunities and speaking engagements to boost their businesses.

The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is a first-of-its-kind global business competition for social entrepreneurs who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and inspiring entire communities to act to create the world we want by 2030.

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Celebrating success: past awardee's ECOncrete revolution

October 1, 2019

Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel kneeling down on a ECOncrete tide pool with the ocean in the background. Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel is the co-founder and chief executive officer of ECOncrete and the 2018 WE Empower UN SDG Challenge awardee from the category of Western Europe and Other Regions. Her revolutionary company has been chosen by Financial Times as a FT Future 25 business for the Middle East region. In a special report, Financial Times focuses on companies that are breaking down barriers in their fields and contributing positively to our world.

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P&G We Empower company profile by Julia Brownell

September 25, 2019

P&G is a long-time global advocate of women empowerment and gender parity through various impact programs. The company has spent more than $1.1 billion with women-owned businesses globally.  P&G helps empower and shape societal perception of women through its partnership with the Association of National Advertisers and #SeeHer initiative to reflect accurate portrayals of women in girls in advertising and media.

Why does P&G support Gender Equality?

As one of the largest advertisers in the world, P&G seeks to use its voice to be a force for good by tackling gender bias and sparking conversations that lead to change through their advertisements.  Arguably the most well-known is the #LikeAGirl campaign by the brand Always, turning the phrase “like a girl” from an insult into an inspiring and empowering message through the award-winning advertisement that captured the attention of millions.

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Food for thought

September 22, 2019

Leah Lizarondo knows the farm-to-table connection is broken. Too many people are food insecure, and yet too many organizations lack the logistical know how and manpower to rescue unsellable, but perfectly good, food. Instead, that food gets thrown away. In droves.

That’s where Lizarondo’s 412 Food Rescue comes into play.

412 Food Rescue uses its technology to recover food from national retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, caterers, universities and more, and redirects that food to nonprofits and community organizations who distribute it to their beneficiaries. The food they’re picking up isn’t just any food: 412 Food Rescue only redirects fresh, perishable food – the healthy stuff.

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Creating time out of thin... water

September 20, 2019

Time is precious — the absence of it and the way we spend it affects our families and our communities. Around the world, millions are spending their precious time walking long distances every day to collect an equally precious resource: water. Christelle Kwizera is disrupting that.  

Christelle knows water access is a fundamental human right. And she knows that the burden of finding water falls disproportionately on women: women spend 40 billion hours every year gathering water. 40. BILLION. 

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WE Empower Challenge participates in 2019 Women Deliver conference

August 28, 2019

Founded in 2007, Women Deliver is a global advocacy organization that “champions gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women” according to their website. Every three years, the organization hosts a conference to bring individuals and activists from around the world together to connect and work on revolutionary ways to address gender equality and women’s issues.

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Go JO girls: a blog by Maddie Handler

August 13, 2019

Maddie HandlerThis blog post was written by Arizona State University student Maddie Handler. Read her first blog post "The economic x-ray of Jordan" and her second post “Unveiling Syrian Refugee Camps.” Handler is the first intern for The Alchemist Lab, founded by 2018 WE Empower Challenge awardee Hadeel Anabtawi.

As I reflect on my time in Jordan, I have been fortunate enough to accomplish more in three months than most do in a few years. I have traveled to 12 cities, attended U.S. Embassy events, met prestigious business leaders and joined a global women’s network. The most rewarding, challenging and enlightening experience of all, has been teaching (and subsequently learning) from the girls at our Go Girls boot camp.

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Unveiling Syrian Refugee Camps: a blog by Maddie Handler

July 23, 2019

Maddie and the leaders of the refugee Girls Empowerment Programs
Me with some of the team members that run refugee Girls’ Empowerment Programs
This blog post was written by Arizona State University student Maddie Handler. Read her first blog, "The economic x-ray of Jordan." Handler is the first intern for The Alchemist Lab, founded by 2018 WE Empower Challenge awardee Hadeel Anabtawi.

When I first arrived in Jordan, all I really knew was that I wanted to learn about human development and helping people effectively so that it really causes an impact. I wanted to meet real people who wake up every day knowing that their job is making someone else’s life just a little better. This is why I was thrilled for the opportunity to work with WE Empower winner Hadeel Anabtawi and her Go Girls campaign.

I had this passion to learn, first-hand, what it was like to improve education, empower women, and meet refugees. As Hadeel had taught me very early into my journey, this internship was what I was going to make it. Jordan has an astounding number of human development workers, and I was determined to learn from the best. This is how I (lovingly) inserted myself into the lives of some of the head coordinators for youth programs at the Syrian refugee camps. Not only have these people become some of my close friends, but they worked tirelessly to get me access into the refugee camps where they work.

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The economic x-ray of Jordan: a blog by Maddie Handler

July 5, 2019

This blog post was written by Arizona State University student Maddie Handler.

About Maddie:

My name is Madeline (Maddie) Handler and I am the first intern for The Alchemist Lab, founded by 2018 WE Empower Challenge awardee Hadeel Anabtawi. ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute Of Sustainability co-leads the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge and this year I served as a first round student judge. I am finishing my Master's degree in global affairs and management from Thunderbird School of Global Management (ASU) in Phoenix. I met Hadeel through my mentor Amanda Ellis, who recognized that as Thunderbird's Net Impact Chapter President I had a passion for social impact, specifically U.N. Sustainable Development Goals four (access to education) and five (gender equality).

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ASU leading role in global consortium to support gender equality

June 30, 2019

Amanda Ellis (far left) with delegates and Women Political Leaders Global Forum founder & former vice-chair of the European Parliament, Silvana Koch-Mehrin (third from left)
The Women Political Leaders Summit is the “foremost global gathering of female political leaders,” according to their website. Every year, more than 350 female political leaders from around the world convene to exchange ideas on best practices around the globe concerning leadership and legislation, and embark on a political agenda setting that would create change in society.

In 2019, the summit was held in Tokyo, Japan and was co-hosted by the House of Representatives. It was the first worldwide gathering of female politicians on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and participants came from 87 countries. Senate presidents, House speakers and former Prime Ministers such as New Zealand’s Helen Clark and Portugal’s Jose Manuel Barroso also attended the summit.

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Changemakers for Sustainability Series: Gender, Tech and Transformation

June 12, 2019

On June 11, the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge group held the second Changemakers for Sustainability Event Series — a luncheon and panel with a gender and technology focus — at the Arizona State University Barbara Barrett and Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center. The second of the series featured 2018 Asia Pacific WE Empower Challenge awardee Hadeel Anabtawi, founder of The Alchemist Lab, an organization providing education to over 25,000 children in cities, remote villages and refugee camps in Jordan. Anabtawi has also launched several initiatives such as “Go Girls!,” a program encouraging STEM-style thinking in young girls.

The event kicked off with opening remarks from United Nations Foundation CEO and President, Kathy Calvin, on the UN SDGs and the importance of gender equality from the UN perspective. Calvin highlighted the role of SDG5 in helping reach goals set in the others.

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WE Empower Challenge awardee visits Hawai'i to present and collaborate

June 3, 2019

Marine biologist and engineer Shimrit Perkol-Finkel was in Hawaii May 28-June 2 en route to the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver, where Amanda Ellis and Perkol-Finkel are both speaking on the same panel.

Perkol-Finkel is an inaugural awardee for the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge headlined by the UN Secretary General and President of the World Bank last September. We are so pleased Hawai'i Green Growth is a dissemination partner. Perkol-Finkel is co-founder of a company creating "ECOncrete" as a positive response to marine climate change.

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WE Empower holds inaugural Changemaker Series event in Washington

April 26, 2019

On April 25, the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge held its first Changemaker Series event at the Arizona State University Barbara Barrett and Sandra Day O'Connor Washington Center. This event celebrated Habiba Ali, the competition’s 2018 winner, who founded a Nigerian company called Sosai that brings renewable energy technologies to the most rural of users, improving access to clean, affordable energy and providing clean water and better health outcomes.

At a related event the evening before, Ali was awarded the 2019 Economic Empowerment Award through Vital Voices’ Global Leadership Awards Honoree Program. Vital Voices and ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability are lead partners of the WE Empower Challenge.

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Sustainability scholar presents at Davos

January 25, 2019

Amanda Ellis, executive director of Hawaii and Asia Pacific in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, was part of a panel discussion at the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting held in Davos, Switzerland. In the discussion, titled “Women Leaders and the SDGs – How can women achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals?,” Ellis showcased the WE Empower U.N. SDG Challenge, a program that celebrates extraordinary women entrepreneurs advancing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Photo: Ellis (third from left) poses with the other panel speakers Márcia Balisciano, head of sustainability at RELX Group and board member of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens; Sanjeev Khagram, dean of Thunderbird School of Global Management; and Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Sustainability scholar presents at RELX Group SDG Inspiration Day

November 28, 2018

Amanda Ellis giving presentationThe first RELX Group SDG Inspiration Day in San Jose, California featured a talk from Amanda Ellis, executive director of Hawaii and Asia Pacific in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Ellis’s talk, titled "The Diversity Dividend — Technology to Advance the SDGs," focused on inspiring stories of how women are making the world a better place through innovative ideas and businesses. Stories included some of the WE Empower U.N. SDG Challenge awardees who run sustainable businesses. Ellis also discussed how Hawaii, where she lives, is committing to ambitious sustainability goals.

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A life-changing journey to the United Nations

View Source | October 5, 2018

Arizona State University Juris Doctor candidate Ember Van Vranken traveled to New York for the U.N. Global Engagement Summit as part of her volunteering as a student judge for the WE Empower U.N. SDG Challenge, a global competition supported by ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. After a whirlwind week with the 2018 WE Empower Challenge awardees and ASU faculty, Van Vranken shared a first-person account of her experience with ASU Now.

Photo: Ember Van Vranken, right, with Amanda Ellis, ASU Wrigley Institute director of strategic partnerships, at the UN Solutions Summit

Female entrepreneurs strengthen sustainable businesses through WE Empower Challenge

View Source | October 4, 2018

WE Empower UN SDG ChallengeAwardees of the inaugural WE Empower UN SDG Challenge — a global business competition for female entrepreneurs who are advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — recently spent several days in New York City for the U.N. Global Goals Week.

The WE Empower Challenge was initiated by Amanda Ellis, executive director of Hawaii and Asia Pacific for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Ellis attended Global Goals Week with the five awardees, who represent each of the U.N. regions, as did ASU student Ember Van Vranken from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, who helped screen the applicants and was randomly chosen to join the group in New York.

During their time in New York, the awardees were featured at a high-level session at the U.N. General Assembly with the U.N. secretary-general, the president of the World Bank, five female presidents and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights. They participated in leadership trainings including blockchain and a number of networking opportunities, and had their work highlighted by the U.N. Foundation. Among their activities was a meeting with Lauren Gula, the U.N.'s senior manager of gender equality, to sign the Women's Empowerment Principles.

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How to improve economic growth? Empower women

View Source | September 28, 2018

A high-level panel event at the 2018 United Nations General Assembly discussed the importance of gender equality to the world economy. Empowering women, the panelists said, would contribute 28 trillion dollars to the world economy over the next seven years.

At this event, the five 2018 WE Empower UN SDG Challenge awardees were honored for their ongoing entreprenurial commitments to gender equality and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read more about the event in "Gender inequality costs trillions to the world," an article by the Council of Women World Leaders.