The global winners of the SDGs and Her Competition were celebrated at a side-event during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly. The contest—co-sponsored by the World Bank Group, UNDP, UN Women, and the Wharton School Zicklin Center—showcases women micro-entrepreneurs who are helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through their businesses.
The first-place winner is Tanzania-based WomenChoice Industries, owned by Lucy Odiwa. WomenChoice Industries produces reusable sanitary pads, post-partum maternity pads, and child and adult diapers, and also promotes menstrual health hygiene management in schools. The lack of menstrual health hygiene management products and knowledge often hinders the ability of low-income women and girls to work and attend school, Odiwa says. Her business is helping Tanzania to achieve SDG target 3.7 (women’s health) and SDG target 4.1 (girls’ access to education).
The second-place winner is Mukuru Clean Stoves of Kenya, owned by Charlot Magayi, which recycles waste metals to produce improved, reliable, and affordable cookstoves to reduce indoor air pollution, a major health challenge in the developing world. Her business addresses SDG 8 (decent work), SDG 1 (end poverty), and SDG 3 (good health).
“We know that the world cannot achieve the SDGs without full participation of women in societies and economies,” said World Bank Group Senior Vice President Mahmoud Mohieldin. “By organizing such a competition, the SDGs and Her Initiative creates a unique opportunity for women entrepreneurs to showcase their contribution to the SDGs and inspires other entrepreneurs around the world to do their part by sharing best practices and innovative ideas.”
“These inspiring SDG and Her participants show us why women entrepreneurs are such critical players,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. “When they thrive, women entrepreneurs create jobs for themselves and others. They also generate products and services that enrich society as a whole. They are vibrant leaders in the private sector and drivers of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. UN Women looks forward to working collaboratively with these pathbreaking initiatives and companies in the years to come.”
“Without gender equality and women’s empowerment we will not achieve the SDGs,” Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Development Policy Bureau stated. “Women entrepreneurs contribute greatly to their families, communities and economies. The winners of this competition are perfect examples of how women innovate and provide solutions that open doors for other women and girls to pursue their aspirations.”
Odiwa and Magayi will discuss their work and impact during this event at the margins of the UN General Assembly high-level week and will also receive leadership training and mentoring from partner organizations.
Over 1,200 entries from 88 countries were submitted, and while nearly half of the entries were from Sub-Saharan Africa, submissions were received from every region of the world, including Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and East Asia and the Pacific.
The SDGs and Her competition seeks to increase knowledge about the SDGs and their potential impact on women, as well as to encourage private sector partners and share best practices and innovative ideas.
The SDGs and Her competition is open to women who own and/or lead micro-enterprises with nine or fewer employees, and which have loan eligibility under USD $10,000 or annual sales under USD 100,000. Applicants completed a short online template, describing their work and linking their initiative/product to one or more SDGs.
Entries will be accepted for the 2019 competition between 24 September and 31 December, 2018. Winners will be announced in early 2019.
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