Friday, June 15, 2007

Sheila C. Johnson Issues Challenge for a Movement to End Global Poverty

Sheila C. Johnson Issues Challenge for a Movement to End Global Poverty
Philanthropist and businesswoman teams with CARE to activate and empower women

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 12, 2007) - Philanthropist and businesswoman Sheila C. Johnson and CARE President Helene D. Gayle announced today at the National Press Club the launch of a new movement to activate and empower women in the fight against global poverty. They called on individuals and businesses in America to take Sheila's I Am Powerful Challenge.

Sheila's I Am Powerful Challenge aims to generate awareness and support to empower women who make up about 70 percent of the world's poorest people. Armed with business skills and access to health and educational opportunities, these same women can become the world's greatest natural resources for fighting global poverty.

"The lives of women have reached a tipping point where, just like in America 150 years ago, a powerful women's movement is needed, but this time on a global scale," said Johnson, who recently visited CARE programs in Guatemala and Tanzania, witnessing the effects poverty has on women and girls, as well as the actions they are taking to change their lives and improve their communities. "It's not about the power of one, but instead activating the combined power of many both domestically and abroad. Over the years, women in America have proven that when the right assets and networks come together, we can create the art of the possible. Today, we possess the talent and resources to make a real difference in the lives of women, their families and, ultimately, our global community."

By issuing this challenge, Johnson is not only putting her money where her heart is, investing $5 million to jumpstart a movement — $4 million of which will be used to double the power of donations to CARE over the next two years by matching them dollar for dollar — she's also using her voice to call on women in America to ask questions, educate themselves about the issues, and advocate against social inequity that has held back women around the world far too long. Individuals can also triple the power of their efforts by engaging with the businesses they work for to match their donations and to join the movement by helping build awareness.

"In order to create a better and more secure world that we all desire for our children, we must work together, combine our resources and start a process of bi-directional learning and problem solving," said Johnson. "In today's world, global issues intertwine heavily with domestic issues and, ultimately, regarding the issue of poverty, women are disproportionally affected."

Women produce half the world's food, but own only 1 percent of its farmland.
Eighty percent of the world's refugees and displaced people are women and girls.
Of the 900 million illiterate adults in the developing world, two-thirds are women.
Of the 77 million children worldwide who are not in school, about 60 percent are girls.
Each year more than 500,000 women — roughly one every minute — die from pregnancy-related causes that are largely preventable.
Yet CARE's work demonstrates that, for example, improvements in girls' education can lead to increased family income, improved health and nutrition, smaller families and decreased child and maternal mortality.

"Investing in women's lives is central to breaking the cycle of poverty," said Dr. Gayle, who became CARE's president in April 2006 after heading global HIV/AIDS and health programs for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Together we can start something different, something big. Joining Sheila's I Am Powerful Challenge is a first step toward realizing a tremendous opportunity to engage each other on behalf of the global community."

And it has begun. In early March, Johnson collaborated with Dr. Gayle to bring together three dozen influential women from different backgrounds in business, education, entertainment and media to her home in Middleburg, Va. for the first ever I Am Powerful retreat. At the retreat, participants bonded around issues affecting women around the world and brainstormed ideas to generate awareness. And key partnerships to advance the movement are being formed with the WNBA, Parsons The New School for Design, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the National Association of Female Executives and Working Mother Media.

Join the movement: Visit

Media Contacts:

Allen Clinton,, (404) 979-9206

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