Gender equality is a cause the majority of us in the developed world can claim to support. But the truth is that our support rarely translates into reality for those suffering from gender inequalities. According to a World Bank Report, violence causes more deaths and disabilities in women between the ages of 15 and 44 than war, cancer, malaria and traffic accidents. Other reports on gender rights and status have shown that across the globe, women make up only about 17% of parliamentarians, over 40 million girls still lack access to primary education and often when constructing aid and assistance packages as well as poverty reduction programs, women’s related issues are often marginalized, if not completely ignored. But what we often do not realize is that the oppression and marginalization of women is detrimental to all. Women comprise about half of the world’s population, and each one of these women holds immense potential. Think of all the strides in development and poverty alleviation that could be made if we tapped into their capabilities. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the work of Catapult.
Founded in 2011 by Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization for women’s rights in health, in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Catapult is a crowdfunding platform that allows for anyone to invest in women around the world, and help promote gender equality. Organizations whose programs benefit women and girls at least 80% of the time and whose projects have been rigorously evaluated for legitimacy (including for financial transparency, references and annual reports) by expert organizations such as the Global Fund for Women can apply to have their projects listed on Catapult. Current issues that project donors can choose from include ones which focus on education and training, human trafficking, innovation, LGBTQ, child brides, family planning and reproductive rights. Users can also select projects through various other filters such as location and need, and donate to their project of choice either individually or by creating a donor team. Once they have donated, donors will be able to keep track of where their money is going and how it is being used, through a series of feedback reports. And what’s even better, all of this happens for free. Catapult does not charge its users a single dime, and simply gives them the option to make donations to the organization if they so desire.
Gender inequality is a prevalent global issue. This is something we all know. But rather than starting her own nonprofit organization, Catapult founder Maz Kessler decided to harness the plethora of nonprofit organizations and their banks of expert knowledge into one platform and use it to enact change. She hopes that Catapult will grow into a sustainable funding infrastructure that will be able to harness financial power and transform the lives of women across the globe. And given Catapult’s track record thus far, this goal does not seem to be so farfetched.