Give! The philanthropist motto

By Yann Borgstedt, philanthropist, founder and chairman of the Womanity Foundation

What does the word ‘give’ mean to you? Is it extending kindness to another, donating money to a good cause or offering your time and skills to help someone? Is it dedicating your resources and energy to empower others and foster change?

I believe giving means all those things – and more.

This is a time of year, in Christian societies, when we exchange gifts that show our appreciation and care. It’s a time to celebrate our families, friendships and business relations, and to express generosity and solidarity with those in need. Yet I believe this tradition of giving should be cultivated throughout the year and indeed throughout our lives. For me giving ought to be at the core of everything we do. By this, I mean much more than donating money.

Giving purposefully, daringly and passionately ought to nourish ground-breaking initiatives that enhance equity, safety and well-being for the most disadvantaged and, thus, for all of us.

Over the past 11 years, I have striven with my team at Womanity and in collaboration with our partners to deploy effective ways to transform the lives of underprivileged girls and women, by leveraging their capacities and aspirations and encouraging their emancipation. I’m proud of what we have achieved so far: over 1 million girls in India have benefitted of Educate Girls’ outreach; 33,000 children  in 15 public high schools for girls across Afghanistan have accessed a quality education ; Radio Nisaa, the Middle East’s first women-run commercial station, now reaches an estimated 300,000 listeners in the Palestinian territories; nearly 8,000 female artisans and construction workers in Brazil have had their livelihoods and financial independence enhanced by our WomenChangeMakers Fellows; around 2 million viewers watched the animated fiction series “Be 100 Ragl” (“Worth 100 Men”) across the Middle East and North Africa this year and many of them engaged in disruptive debates on women’s role in society and gender equity. We have worked hard and achieved much, and we intend to continue to learn and improve our efforts and do even better.

I personally participate and contribute actively to Womanity’s work, engaging with our partners, sharing experiences and learnings with other philanthropists, acting as a mentor and role model for gender parity and effective philanthropy wherever I can. I find great reward and enrichment in continuously exploring new ways of promoting social justice, teaming up with change-makers and ensuring that what we do creates measurable and demonstrable impact.

In addition, my companies and I cover 100% of Womanity’s headquarter-related administrative costs and overheads. As a result, whatever is donated to Womanity by third parties  is attributed directly to our field-based activities. This way, every donation counts at its fullest, from all our supporters, big or small, crowd-funders, co-funding partners, volunteers or professionals who offer their expertise in our programs. We all join forces to collectively invest in meaningful, ambitious initiatives that improve the condition of girls and women’s globally. In today’s world, it’s vital to be part of such purposeful connections. To be part of – and responsible for – something much bigger than each of us.

I have been very fortunate in life and this has given me a strong urge to give back. Every time I give, I receive plentifully. I am made proud by the girls who are learning to code in Afghanistan and work hard towards a better future for themselves and their community, and by the women’s organisations in Mexico  who are tackling gender-based violence online, thanks to our funding and support. What greater gift could there be, for me?

Therefore, to all of you who follow Womanity, I wish from the bottom of my heart that you may give generously and purposefully and in turn receive ever more plentifully in this holiday season and throughout the new year.

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