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WomenChangingTheWorld

Photo by Mattea Photography

In the words of Anne Frank, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  When social entrepreneurs see an opportunity to help the lives of others, they jump at the chance to affect change.

Here are five women from around the world who decided not to just be spectators:

01 | LISA DOMICAN - IRELAND
Lisa Domican’s two children have autism and as a mom, communicating with them relies heavily on pictures.  She needed an easier way to do this so she created Grace App.  Named after her second child, Grace App is a picture exchange communication app which was developed to help people with autism communicate independently.  Also, the app is useful for any disability or condition that may cause loss of speech such as stroke or brain injury.  In Domican’s eyes, everyone deserves to be heard.

“It was created to support my daughter, but a speech disability can happen to anybody at any time, Domican said in a TEDxDublin talk.

02 | SABRINA MAHTANI - SIERRA LEONE
After her father was unjustly imprisoned in Zambia for treason, a young Sabrina Mahtani knew that there was a lack of proper legal representation around the world.  After visiting Sierra Leone and seeing firsthand how women on death row were treated, Mahtani took a stand and establish AdvocAid with a group of her friends.  Many women are imprisoned for poverty-related crimes such as owing debts and domestic disputes, having no one to advocate on their behalf.

The women’s battles don't just end at prison, unfortunately.  After release, many are fearful of returning to their previous homes and communities, but AdvocAid steps in at this point, too.  In addition to providing legal aid, the organization also helps women and their families after their release with education and reintegration into lives outside of prison. This work is essential to the women’s long term sustainment.

As Mahtani explained in an interview: "There are so few organizations that will be there from the very beginning right through to the end.”

03 | DURGABAI VYAM - INDIA
In India, Dalits don’t always have a voice.  They fall outside of the Hindu caste system—it’s social segregation—and there is a great amount of emotional, psychological, and physical mistreatment.  But, artist Durgabai Vyam is on a mission to bring awareness to caste discrimination.  She creates work specifically to push the envelope and to generate discussion.

In 2011, she published Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability along with her husband and fellow artist Subhash Vyam as well as writers Srividya Natarajan and S. Anand to tell the story of social activist Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar.  The book spoke against the 3,000-year-old system and the art was just as important as the narrative. Vyam is an out-of-the-box artist and so is everything that she creates. With her creative expression, the book became both controversial and eye opening.

“I did not want to do a book that cages art in little boxes," Vyam expressed to the Washington Post.  ”I like to draw in open spaces, where they can breathe."

04 | ANA LUCIA HURTADO ABAD - PERU
As the executive director of Asociación Huarayo in Peru, sociologist Ana Lucia Hurtado Abad diligently works to right injustices in gold mining.  One main issue is the prevalence of sex trafficking that is fueled by this industry.  Near illegal mining sites, girls and women are often lured away from their families with financial promises and forced to work as prostitutes.  According to the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, Peru had approximately 2,000 cases of sex slavery from 2007-2014. Out of the victims, 53% were between the ages of 13 and 17.  The Asociación provides a number of services to save and rehabilitate victims and Abad is currently in charge of the organization’s Albergue Juvenil de Mazuko program—a juvenile shelter project that provides housing, food, and education for disadvantaged children.

"When you do not have opportunities for development, it is a steep challenge: give them education and generate employment for them,” Abad stated to LaRepublica.

05 | DIANE LATIKER - USA
After seeing the surrounding violence in her community of Roseland on Chicago’s south side, Diane Latiker started to open up her home to children in the neighborhood.  After becoming a second mother to so many kids and providing a safe haven in a violence-stricken area, Latiker formed her organization Kids Off The Block and continued her groundbreaking work in which she accepts at-risk youth without discrimination or judgment.  Before receiving help, Latiker even sold her own possessions to buy computers for the kids that come to her needing guidance.  With the help of donors, Latiker now owns the building next door to her home where she can now operate her program in addition to providing daily assistance like tutoring and after-school activities. Through this program, Latiker teaches kids an alternative to gun violence and inspires them to aim for higher horizons.  With her loving care, it’s no surprise how quickly her program grew.

As Latiker said to the Chicago Tribune: "One day I looked up and there were 75 young people in my apartment.”

FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people and organizations, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.

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