“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Just two days before the very first “International Day of the Girl Child” on October 11, 2012, the world was stunned by the barbaric shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl and activist Malala Yousafzai.
The hideous attack was another reminder of the lethal discrimination that girls and women confront daily as they try to exercise their basic human rights.
Here in New York, we were getting ready to launch a new crowdfunding platform for girls’ and women’s equality. We’d been looking forward for months to celebrating the launch on the very first Day of the Girl.
Instead of joy, there was grief. Malala was struggling for her life in a UK hospital. With her incredible courage uppermost in our hearts and minds, we went forward on October 11 and hit the “start” button on our crowdfunding platform – Catapult.org.
This week Catapult turns two. Malala has just been awarded the Nobel prize – the youngest Peace Laureate ever. It’s a great moment to celebrate, to evaluate our progress, and to share the positive, concrete impact that we’ve been able to have in just two years – affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of girls like Malala.
To track our progress, we’ve been collecting impact data and metrics from day one. Each project crowdfunded on Catapult openly publishes their impact, and we share all of the data on the site. Our philosophy is the more light we shine, the better.
We set the goals for impact in the months before Catapult launched, in consultation with several brilliant women’s rights experts from our partner the Global Fund for Women. (I’m a designer and a technologist, not a global development expert!) I remember feeling both challenged and also rather terrified by the ambitious targets we were aiming for.
We had no way of knowing whether Catapult could achieve these goals.
So far, the news is great! 432 projects have been fully funded through Catapult. The impact is already far surpassing our original goals, and we’ve only compiled data from around half of the 432 projects. Every day more impact reports are pouring in from partners in 86 countries. Here are some of the numbers so far:
402,218 girls and women directly supported.
2,799,578 family and communities members reached.
|Violence against girls and women||2,500||15,332|
|Reproductive Rights, Family Planning||4,000||154,979|
|Computer and IT training||3,000||8,522|
As we say at Catapult – “It’s a start!”
Of course we understand the massive scope of the problems we’re working to address. 66 million girls are out of school. 14 million girls will be married as children every year, against their will. One in three girls and women experience physical and sexual violence. 200 million women desperately want contraceptives and can’t get them.
But – new ‘mass participation’ online and social network models are already proving their power. Platforms like Catapult, based on the active participation of millions of people, are demonstrating real, economic might, and influencing decision-makers – Donors Choose (21.6 million students helped), Kiva (over 777,000 loans made), Global Giving (10,683 projects funded) and Avaaz (close to 39 million members).
So to celebrate our second birthday, we dedicate our impact to the courage and leadership of Malala Yousafzai, and we look forward to many more years of action.