Three Organizations Win US Award for Empowerment of Women

US Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the recipients of the Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

This year’s awardees are innovators who are making a difference in India, Kenya, and Tanzania who represent amazing innovations in the sectors of agriculture, technology, economic empowerment and the “green” economy.

On her remarks at the awarding ceremony, Ms. Clinton said over the past three years, the United States has been focused intently on the challenges facing women and girls.

“Recognizing the role of women is not just because we think it’s a moral imperative and absolutely historically necessary.” -Ms. Clinton

The United States really believes that transforming the lives of women and girls transforms societies, countries, and our world.

“So we ask ourselves all the time how to create economic opportunities, how to improve women’s social and cultural standing, how to open up governments and political processes to women.” -Ms. Clinton

She stresses that the full participation of women is essential in order to raise the GDPs in every economy in the world, including our own; essential for achieving the peace and security objectives of American foreign policy.

However, all that potential goes untapped when women have few resources and little support.

To address that challenge, the State Department partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation to establish the Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

The awards support US most creative thinkers and committed activists.

“So the innovations we’re supporting today help overcome some everyday challenges.” -Ms. Clinton

The winners of the Secretary’s Innovation Awards are:


The Secretary’s Innovation Award is given to Chintan, an Indian nonprofit, is working on the ground to train and organize waste pickers and to eliminate child labor from their ranks. This group is advocating for those who work in the informal sector, pushing for recognition, basic protections, and fundamental dignity.

Bharati Chaturvedi is Chintan’s founder. Her own work has been on solid waste management and recycling.

According to Ms. Clinton, most Indian cities rely on workers from the informal sector to recycle their waste.

Chintan’s efforts have reached more than 20,000 waste pickers in India in the past five years. More than 2,000 children have been pulled out of the trash heaps and put on a path toward education and opportunity.

“Chintan’s work in advocacy and research has expanded beyond local concerns and is helping change the way we understand informal labor sectors around the world.” -Ms. Clinton


Samasource is a social enterprise that connects people living in poverty with life-changing work opportunities via the Internet.

“Now, around the world there is an unmet demand for digital service jobs, tasks that can be performed online anywhere in the world for companies in the United States and elsewhere.”

Ms. Clinton

Ms Clinton cites that in Kenya, Samasource is approaching the problem from two angles: first, providing women and girls with the training they need to do these online jobs; second, providing access to the internet so that this untapped workforce can connect with a waiting job market.

Samasource has connected more than 2,000 women with these jobs.

Leilah Janah, the founder of Samasource, is accepting the award on behalf of Samasource Kenya and Jen Cantwell, Samasource’s East Africa Managing Director.

Samasource is partnering with investors like the Ford Foundation, the eBay Foundation, and


The Secretary’s Innovation Award is presented to Kickstart for transforming agriculture for women in Tanzania by its two interconnected product innovations.

First, the MoneyMaker Hip Pump is a simple irrigation tool that is low-cost, manually powered, lightweight, and portable. The second innovation of this project is the Mobile Layaway service that enables poor women farmers to purchase a pump through micro-payments over time.

Kickstart Tanzania’s Country Manager, Anne Atieno Otieno accepted the award.

“By harnessing technology and spurring entrepreneurship, KickStart is changing the way we work to alleviate poverty and promote development.” -Ms. Clinton

These award winners have demonstrated the power of innovation to accelerate the well-being of humanity.

The awardees will also receive $500, 000 to support their project and endevours.

On April 2010, Secretary Clinton announced the launch of the “Secretary’s Innovation Award for Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment.” Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Innovation Award seeks to find and bring to scale the most pioneering approaches to the political, economic and social empowerment of women and girls around the globe.

The award is part of the State Department’s continuing emphasis on public-private partnerships, and is administered by its Office of Global Women’s Issues. The award, and the office, is founded on the premise that the major economic, security, governance and environmental challenges of our time cannot be solved without the full participation of women at all levels of society.

The Rockefeller Foundation, as part of its mission to expand opportunity and promote more equitable growth, seeks to

identify innovative approaches that can be scaled to address these challenges.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.