Lottery of Life Storybook

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What else could have been your story?
You are a proud Mayan woman living in Guatemala. It’s the most beautiful place in the world. When you wake up, you see the shadows of mountains in the distance. When you look out your front door, you see rolling green hills. You have built your tourism business here--the only Mayan woman-led tourist company in Guatemala. Before your guests arrive, you spend hours steaming tamales, frying plantains, and baking chicken in a thick onion sauce. Nothing makes you happier than treating your guests to this food, this landscape, and this way of life. History has not been kind to Mayan women, but this is your chance to take control.

Know your facts: Guatemala may, indeed, have some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Sadly, it also ranks in the top three when it comes to rates of femicide. This and the legacy of a 30-year Civil War have deeply affected Mayan women. Despite widespread discrimination, violence, and poverty, Mayan women are innovating to address the barriers they face. The MATCH Fund supports one such innovation--a Mayan women-led tourist initiative along Guatemala’s Patanatic Route.
You were never born. The people who would have been your parents have a son. He got the best education they could afford. He is getting married next week to a girl half his age. If you had ever been born, you would have liked her. You would have held her when she cried about missing her friends and her teachers at the school she no longer attends. You would have rubbed her swollen ankles when she got pregnant later that year. You would have comforted her when she worried that the baby might turn out to be a girl. “It’s not a fate worse than death,” you would have said. You would have.

Know Your Facts: Female infanticide is the deliberate killing of girl babies, whether it’s before they’re born or shortly after. Some families choose to do this for financial reasons—they want to invest in the best bet for their survival and future income. And they are taught that the best bet is a male baby. Some mothers choose to do this because they simply don’t want their baby girls to have lives like theirs. This happens around the world but most notably in India and China, where millions of infanticides have happened in the past decade. That's why The MATCH Fund works to ensure that girls are valued and treated as equals.
You’re a grandmother in a rural Ugandan community. When you were 10 years old, you underwent a practice called female genital mutilation. Your clitoris was cut out with a razor blade. You were told it brought good luck to your family and that you would fetch a higher bride price when you got married. But it hurt. A lot. And labour was excruciating when, years later, you had babies of your own. So the practice stops with you. You have been trained as a paralegal in your village. You tell local elders about the consequences of this tradition that, though illegal now, has still not ended for so many girls in rural Uganda. But it will end, if you have anything to say about it. (And, boy, do you have a lot to say about it.)

Know your facts: Even though practicing female genital mutilation (FGM) could result in imprisonment for up to 10 years, Ugandan anti-FGM laws are rarely enforced. In fact, rates of FGM have recently increased in some regions. Tragically, reporting FGM is so costly and difficult that many girls stay silent. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports the intelligence gathering, investigation, and prosecution of these acts in Uganda.
You are a gay man. You and your boyfriend met playing soccer. He’s handsome and smart and totally into you. When you’re with him, you don’t want to be anywhere else. You and he could talk for hours (and you do.) You ache to hold his hand in public. You wish you could introduce him as your boyfriend to your family. But you can’t. You live in one of the 77 countries where it is illegal to be gay. Next month, you’re going to be married to a woman your parents chose for you. You don’t know how you will spend the rest of your days living a lie.

Know your facts: In seven countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. In 70 countries, you could be thrown in jail just for being gay. Not to mention the many many countries--yes, even in Canada and the United States--where LGBT folks face discrimination every day. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports LGBT people around the world to stand up to discrimination and, one day, to live safely and openly in their communities.
You had the bad luck to be born before the year 2133. That means that, no matter what country you live in, what level of education you have, or what profession you choose, you will never make as much money in your lifetime as you would have if you had been a man.

Know your facts: In 2016, women still make $0.80 to a man’s $1.00. Think that’s bad? For women of colour, the gap is even bigger. And it just gets worse with age—after the age of 35, research shows that the gap just keeps getting larger, dropping to about $0.76 to a man’s $1.00. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports women around the world who are fighting for their equality.
You live in Toronto, Canada. You have two daughters who are strong, smart, and talented. They are both away at University this year, and you can’t wait for them to come home for the holidays so you can spoil them rotten and hear about their lives on campus. You wonder if they are dating anyone. You wonder if they are keeping their grades up. You wonder how you got so lucky to have such great kids.

Know your facts: Don’t relax yet, Dad. Did you know that a college campus is one of the most dangerous places for a Canadian woman to be? It is estimated that rape or attempted rape among women in higher educational institutions is between 20-25% over the course of a college career. That's why The MATCH Fund supports women around the world who are fighting to end rape culture.
You died from cholera when you were only 11 years old. When you were alive, you were strong, and sassy, and everyone said you were soooo funny. You loved your family, your friends, your teachers, and playing soccer. Sure, you didn’t always love all those hours you spent carrying water to your house in rural Sub-Saharan Africa (those water cans weighed 40 pounds each!) but at least it was a good time to catch up with your friends. One day, you just felt so sick. And thirsty. You had to miss school. And you never went back ever again.

Know your facts: In Sub-Saharan Africa, ⅔ of households rely on women and girls to get the family’s water. All that (unpaid) work adds up. It takes 40 billion hours each year. (That number may sound made up. But it’s not.) And the water isn’t always safe. Kids lose millions of school days each year because of water-related illnesses. And nearly 1 out of every 5 child deaths worldwide is due to a water-related disease. That's why The MATCH Fund works with girls around the world to grow up happy and healthy.
Sorry. You can’t access the results of this quiz, because you don’t have access to the Internet. You don’t have a computer or even a phone. Even if you could access one, you might not be allowed to use it. Because you’re a girl. You live in Africa. Or maybe South Asia. Or the Middle East. We really can’t be more specific, because you were never able to enter your data. We don’t know anything about you.

Know your facts: But here’s what we do know: an estimated 200 million fewer women around the world are online than men, and women in developing countries are 21% less likely to own a cell phone. Think of how often you use the Internet and what it lets you do. Would you feel invisible without it? Indeed, the data proves that, when women get online, 30% are able to earn additional income and 80% (yes, 80%) are able to improve their education. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports girls in Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East to access and use tech.
You search for your husband every day. You will never stop searching for him. He was just a flower farmer, not rebel like they said. Just a flower farmer. You still work on the farm. You make only $300 a month and, at the end of the day, the chemicals give you headaches. But your house is full of flowers, the ones that can’t be packaged and sold. The roses remind you of your husband. Maybe he is dead, buried in a mass grave like so many others. But you don’t know. You might never know.

Know your facts: During the 50 years of armed conflict in Colombia, frantic families reported the disappearance of innocent loved ones. During those years, roughly nine people were reported missing every single day. Nearly 70,000 people disappeared without a trace. The MATCH Fund supports women in Colombia to seek justice for these disappearances and to help them rebuild their lives.
You are a mom of three small children living on the island of Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean. Your husband is unemployed, just like so many of your friends’ husbands. You know he loves you. But he seems to be sad and angry all the time. When he beats you, you try to hide your tears from the kids. But they must see the salt stains on your cheeks in the morning. And, anyway, everything tastes salty these days. Even the drinking water. You’ve heard that everyone seems to think that the Pacific Islands are a paradise. But this is your hell.

Know your facts: The women of Kiribati know that climate change is real. They see its effects every day as they lose more and more of their land to flooding. Saltwater has swallowed up the shores, destroying drinking water. As much as 80% of some villages may be underwater by 2050. But that feels like a lifetime away for so many women whose present reality is a dangerous one. Nearly 70% percent of women in Kiribati report violence from an intimate partner. That’s why The MATCH Fund has supported women in the Pacific Islands to come together and address the issues they face.
You are a Canadian Indigenous woman. You have been missing from your community for eight years. There have been no leads in your case. Local police assume you must be dead, but your mother refuses to stop looking for you. She remembers you as the little girl who loved school, warm fry bread, and hockey. That little girl will never be dead to her.

Know Your Facts: As many as 4,000 Indigenous Canadian women have been murdered or have disappeared without a trace since 1980. It’s a startling fact that Indigenous women in Canada are nearly 5 times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous Canadian women. But this problem is not unique to Canada. If you were an Indigenous girl born in Australia, your life expectancy would be 20 years shorter than a non-Indigenous girl. In Guatemala, 560 Indigenous women were murdered in one year alone, and 98% of the killers faced no consequences. That's why The MATCH Fund supports Indigenous women around the world.
You are a secret agent from Delhi. Okay. You’re not really a secret agent. But sometimes it feels that way. Because you are a girl, local elders have forbidden you from having a cell phone. Your mobility and even your dreams are restricted to what a “good Indian girl” would do. That’s why you code in secret at an after-school program to teach girls science and math. Your parents are glad that your school exam scores are improving. But they don’t know that you’re also learning to wire circuit boards, build electromagnetic flashlights, and plan your future career as an engineer.

Know Your Facts: Women in South Asia are 37% less likely to own a cell phone than men. Why? Because a girl with a phone is a girl who can control her own movements, love life, and activities. Scary... These same girls are restricted from using the Internet and other forms of technology. That pushes them even further behind in science, tech, engineering, and math education and careers. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports tech labs for girls in Delhi.
You live in South Sudan. You love soccer, and you’re the best goalie in your village. You and your friends are out playing one day when a group of rebels comes out of nowhere and forces you to become a child soldier. That’s the last day you see your parents, your sisters, and your baby brother. You see things you shouldn’t have to see. You do things you shouldn’t have to do. You wish you could protect the people you love like you protected your soccer goal. But you can’t.

Know your facts: There are an estimated 250,000 child soldiers in the world today. 40% of child soldiers are girls who are often used as sex slaves. Some children are forcibly recruited. Others volunteer because they see it as the only way to protect themselves or their communities. They live for months without enough food and without seeing their families. The MATCH Fund works with women's organizations around the world that are bringing back childhood and letting kids be kids.
You are a teenage boy. You have lived in Cape Town your whole life, and you are fed up. You are fed up with the other boys in your class making rude comments about girls, and you are fed up with the stories you hear in the news about violence against women. You love your sisters, you mom, and your aunties. (You love your girlfriend, too, but you you’re too shy to tell her.) You decide to join up with other boys your age to put an end to rape in South Africa. You volunteer for a rape crisis organization where you lead trainings for young men in high schools. You even go on national T.V. with your message: “Ending violence against women and girls must start with men and boys.”

Know your facts: In South Africa, 147 cases of sexual violence are reported every single day. That doesn’t even count the many incidents of rape that go unreported. Including youth (both boys and girls) is so important to prevent high rates of violence against women for future generations. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports a rape crisis centre in South Africa that positions young girls and boys as leaders to end rape culture.
When you lived in Aleppo, you were a renowned literature professor. But that was then. This is now: you emptied your bank account to flee Syria with your wife. You spent eight months in a refugee camp. Then you and your wife spent your last pennies to board an overcrowded boat to Europe. Now, you can’t find a job. Your wife has been the target of Islamophobic violence and sexual harassment in the streets. You just want to go home.

Know your facts: The Syrian refugees are the world’s largest refugee population. It has been the worst exodus since the Rwandan genocide, with 4.8 million Syrians (75% of which are women and children) fleeing the region. But you’re one of the lucky ones. Fewer than 1% of Syria’s refugees will ever get a chance to be resettled overseas. And since the Syrian civil war began, as many as 386,000 people have been killed, including nearly 14,000 children.
You’re a transgender teenager living in the United States. When you told your parents that you identify as a girl instead of a boy, your mom cried. Your dad beat you. Your parents tried to “fix you.” So you ran away to the nearest big city. You lived on the streets for a while. None of the shelters were safe for a trans teen like you. One day, you were arrested for soliciting (even though you weren’t.) You were thrown in the men’s jail (even though you’re a woman,) and you were denied your female hormones, your identity, and your dignity.

Know your facts: In the United States, 700,000 people identify as transgender. 41% of transgender people have committed or attempted suicide. Why? The biggest reasons are: sexual assault, physical assault (19% of trans people experience violence or abuse from a family member.), harassment in schools, and job loss (26% have lost jobs due to their gender identity)...all because people were biased or didn’t understand what it meant to be trans. That's why The MATCH Fund supports trans rights around the world.
The sun is just rising over the banana tree when you catch the perfect, screaming baby in your arms. Suddenly, the exhaustion you felt just moments before melts away. You are, after all, a midwife. You have been catching babies in rural South Kivu for many years. And the joy it brings is what gets you through the never-ending violence. These new mothers--women you grew up with, women who have been your neighbours your whole life--didn’t plan to be mothers like this. They are survivors of sexual assault. The newborns like the one you are holding in your arms are both a promise for a better future and a reminder of unspeakable violence.

Know your facts: Women the world over are used as weapons of war. They are raped, kidnapped, sold, and killed. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has been happening for the last twenty years. The MATCH Fund supports training for rural midwives to provide trauma counselling to women who give birth to their babies conceived out of rape. But it’s an uphill battle in a country where 48 women are raped every hour.
When you slip into the driver’s seat, you take off your hijab. You are dressed in your husband’s clothes, and you’ve tried to make yourself look as much like a man as possible. You’ll have to be able to pass if you have any chance of driving the car without trouble. If you’re caught for being a woman driving a car, you could be beaten. Arrested. Tortured. But today you’ve decided it’s worth the risk. You are an adult woman, and you have places to go. You pull into the street, trying to look as relaxed as any man behind the wheel would. You see a car coming toward you. You take a deep breath and press the gas.

Know your facts: A woman can be arrested for driving a car in Saudi Arabia. Or for swimming in a public pool. Or for trying to open a bank account without her husband’s permission. Just last year, Saudi women were finally able to vote for the first time. We know that women drive change. But, far too often, they have to do it from the passenger seat.
You are a domestic worker living in Argentina. You migrated 10 years ago from Bolivia, and you still don’t have a work visa. You are the only breadwinner in your family, so you have no choice but to take the work you can get. You work long hours. You don’t get sick days. You don’t get paid vacation. You barely get a break during the day. Your feet and back ache, but who has the time and money to go to a doctor?

Know your facts: More than half of Argentina’s domestic workers do not get days off work. 95% do not even have paid sick days. But because 81% do not have a work visa, it’s not a wonder that these marginalized migrant women feel that they have neither the resources nor the ability to report their exploitation. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports migrant domestic workers in Argentina to know their rights and access legal services.
You’ve won the lottery--the actual lottery! You are a millionaire. You’re one lucky guy.

Know your facts: And, while we’re at it, let’s talk about all the other ways you won the lottery. You are a man. Of course, that doesn’t mean your life is perfect, but being a man puts you at a distinct advantage. Think of it this way: you had a 1 in 14 million chance of winning the lottery. If you would have been born a girl, you would also have had:

  • A 1 in 54 chance of not getting an education
  • A 1 in 50 chance of being a child bride
  • A 1 in 18 chance of undergoing female genital mutilation

That's why The MATCH Fund supports women and girls who are finding solutions to the world's biggest problems: whether that's putting an end to child marriage and female genital mutilation or keeping girls in school.
You are a police officer in Egypt. Your wife tells you about a cell phone app that maps street harassment in your city. You look it up, and you notice that multiple women have reported incidents at the west corner of one particular square at 3PM. On your day off, you decide to investigate. You notice that a group of men seems to be making trouble for women as they pass by. You ask your boss to increase police presence in the square at 3PM. The violence stops. You may not have ended violence against women everywhere. But at least it’s a start.

Know your facts: 83% of Egyptian women reported sexual harassment on the street at least once in their lives. Nearly half of those women experience it every single day. These women don’t see it as “just a wolf whistle” and they don’t take it as “a compliment.” This happens everywhere around the world--from Cairo to Calgary. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports the use of technology to map and stop street harassment. For good.
You are a lesbian living in Tbilisi, Georgia. You love cooking dinner for your girlfriend, even though everyone just thinks she’s your best friend. (She’s obviously not. You don’t kiss your best friend.) You wish you could walk down the street holding your girlfriend’s hand. You wish you could introduce her to your family as your girlfriend. One day, you’re attending a peaceful rally for LGBT rights in Tbilisi. Violent protesters, encouraged by the Georgian Orthodox Church, appear out of nowhere. You fear for your life. You don’t understand how people could hate you so much for who you love.

Know your facts: On the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013, a violent, church-led demonstration broke up a small gay rights rally in the country of Georgia that left the LGBT community fearing for their lives. Understandably, Georgia’s gay rights activists felt too unsafe to rally in person the following year. Instead, they left 100 pairs of empty shoes on Tbilisi’s Pushkin square. The shoes said: We are here. We are not invisible. We will continue to demand our rights. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports LGBT filmmakers in Georgia to document and expose homophobia.
You are a university student in Mexico. You are loved, well-educated, and you come from a well-off family. You have lots of friends, and you are majoring in literature. One day, walking home from visiting a friend, you are raped. You are scared and ashamed. When you realize that you are pregnant, you refuse to believe it at first. Then, when you decide to access the sexual and reproductive services to which you are entitled as a rape survivor, you are refused care. You are told you have no options.

Know your facts: This could be your story if you lived in, well, so many places around the world. Globally, women struggle to access even the bare minimum of sexual and reproductive care. The consequences can be devastating: In El Salvador, women who have abortions or even miscarriages can be thrown in jail. In Paraguay, an 11 year old rape victim was forced to give birth. In North America, restrictions have imposed such stigma, such onerous requirements, and such long wait times that many young women can’t even access the care to which they are entitled. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports women who are holding healthcare providers accountable and demanding control over their own bodies.
You have been a rag picker in Kolkata for your entire life. Even though you are only in your 40s, you look much older. It’s a hard life. You are from the lowest caste, so you don’t have any other choice but to spend your days sifting through the city’s trash, just like your mother did. You cannot read. You earn only $1 a day. By the end of the workday, your eyes burn. Your hands are full of little scars from a lifetime of being cut from hidden shards of glass.

Know your facts: Waste work in India is neither an economically rewarding nor a safe job. Rag pickers are often victims of abuse, violence, and trafficking. They have seen everything in life except security and financial stability. Up against incredible odds, these women confront trash mafias who control prices, roads, and wages. (Yes, trash mafias.) They risk disease, injury, and sometimes even death due to their line of work. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports rag pickers in Kolkata to become entrepreneurs for environmental justice.
You are a budding entrepreneur living in Jamaica. You have 30 years of experience in your field, and your next big idea is, well, really big. But you struggle to get investors to take you seriously. You know that your idea will take off once you attract the right partners, but you don’t even have the resources to fund the legal paperwork to register your business, let alone to rent an office space to hold meetings.

Know your facts: 80% of Jamaica’s labour force is comprised of small and medium-sized enterprises. More than half of these businesses are part of the informal sector. That means, you guessed it, the vast majority of these businesses are led by women. Many of these women just need the space and the connections to get their businesses up and running. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports Jamaica’s first innovation and entrepreneurship hub for women.
You are a Somali refugee in a rural camp in Uganda. Due to violence, you fled your home country six years ago with your husband and two children. Today, you live in a small brick house with a tin roof. You have a vegetable garden that gives you carrots and chilies. You cook improvised Cambuulo over your mud stove. Your children go to school for free, and they like playing in the small stream nearby. Even though you’re one of the lucky ones, other women in the camp have told you in confidence about the violence they face at the hands of their husbands. You are gathering these stories to bring to the attention of the local government. No one seems to be addressing the violence against women here. But it’s high time someone did.

Know your facts: While praised for being one of the best places to be a refugee, Uganda is arguably just as hazardous for women refugees as anywhere else. Women face sexual violence as they go about their day, many risk being married off as children, and female genital mutilation is practiced on girls as young as six years old. As of July 2016, Uganda reported more than half a million registered refugees and asylum seekers from places like Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia. More than 85% of these refugees are women and children under the age of 18. The MATCH Fund supports women refugees to gather evidence of the violence they face to lobby for change from the inside out.
You are just a lady with a van. You are an Indigenous woman in Winnipeg’s North End, and you love the North End to your core. Even on the coldest winter days, the North End has a certain warmth and sense of community. That’s why you want to do something about the poverty you see around you. You have first-hand experience with homelessness, and you don’t want any other woman to have to know the hunger you have known. From your van, you make and distribute food to the people living on the streets. Sometime ending hunger is just that simple.

Know your facts: Indigenous women in Canada drive change at the grassroots level. And they are also the most at-risk for homelessness, food insecurity, and discrimination. The median income for an Indigenous woman living in Canada is just over $15,000/year. They some of the highest rates of unemployment in the nation, yet they are doing the lion’s share of the unpaid work in their households and communities. This is true for many Indigenous women the world over. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports Indigenous women to who are leading change in their communities.
Today is your wedding day. You love and chose the person you are going to marry. You are legally allowed to marry that person throughout your entire country. Your parents approve and support your decision. You are an adult, and you are treated as an equal in your relationship. This is the day you’ve waited for your whole life.

Know your facts: This is not the story for many women around the world. 15 million girls around the world are married off as children each year. Many of these matches are made out of convenience or for their family’s financial gain. In some places, when women try to choose their own spouses, they risk being murdered at the hands of their own parents to uphold the family’s honour. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports women to make their own choices and to live happy, healthy lives.
You are a 10 year old Canadian girl. And you don’t get why adults say you’re too little to understand the world. You’re not too little. You understand lots of things. Namely, you understand this: you don’t have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great. That’s why you set up this lemonade stand today. When people walk by, you ask them if they want to make a difference in the lives of women and girls. Turns out everyone wants to make a difference. Now you’ve run out of lemonade, but you have a bag full of loonies and toonies to donate.

Know your facts: Your loonies & toonies, dollars & cents, euros, rupees, pounds & pence, really do make a difference to women and girls around the world. In Canada, only 8% of charitable donations ever make it to people outside our borders. We can do better. Specifically, we can make sure that more resources get into the hands of the women and girls working at the grassroots level. That’s what The MATCH Fund does--making sure that your small change makes big change for women and girls outside of Canada.
You are one of the only female principals in Nepal. You take great pride in your work, and you are the first one to arrive to the school each morning. You watch the children arrive up the mountain path in small groups. You know that some of them walk for hours each way. They sit in cushions on the floor in the three classrooms. You have been trying to get new desks for the students after the old desks were destroyed in the earthquake, but at least the building itself has already been repaired. And you have other things on your mind: the class of 7th grade girls is shrinking as girl after girl gets married and drops out of school. You don’t know what to do.

Know your facts: 37% percent of Nepali girls marry before age 18, and 10% are married by age 15. All this despite the fact that the minimum legal marriage age is 20 years old. When girls marry young, they miss out on their childhood. They miss out on their education. They put their lives in danger by becoming young mothers--mothers whose bodies are too small to bare children. The MATCH Fund supports Nepali principals and teachers to end child marriage and to keep kids in school.
You are a transman in Uganda. You and your community live in fear every day. So you have created an underground network for Uganda’s LGBT folks. You have devised ways to get people to safety when the threat of homophobic violence is too high. You sit with each other when you are scared and alone. You will never stop fighting for your rights. You will be each other’s heroes.

Know your facts: Due to the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, Uganda is one of the worst places in the world to be an LGBT person. LGBT individuals in Uganda and elsewhere in the world are victimized, humiliated, beaten, threatened, assaulted, and murdered within their own countries. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports LGBT folks in the most homophobic contexts to be safe and to fight for their rights.
You never learned how to read. That’s why you hated to take your own kids out of school. You hate even more that, now, they work all day beside you in the brick factory. But what other choice did you have? Your husband has been gone for over two years to work in the Saudi oil fields. The money he sends home to Nepal isn’t enough to feed you and your four children.

Know your facts: Nestled into the Kathmandu Valley are over 750 brick factories. This region is also home to 2,000 migrant child workers. These child labourers and their families—often women-headed households—work during the autumn and winter months in unsafe conditions, all for less than $2 a day. While the factories do provide fast cash, they simultaneously disrupt the children’s schooling as they migrate to work for six months out of the year. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports educational and training programs for child labourers and their mothers.
You are studying to be an aerospace engineer in Kenya. You are the top of your class and the only girl in the program. Let’s face it: the boys are jealous. But so are you. You’re jealous that, even though you have all the best grades, the boys get all the best jobs. Someday, you’ll show them. You’ll get your dream job, and you’ll look down on all those boys as you fly in the airplane you designed, above it all.

Know your facts: Only 8% of Kenya’s engineers are women. Very few girls thrive in science and math classes and, let’s be honest, more than half of high school-aged girls in Kenya are not even enrolled in school. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports mentorship for Kenyan girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. When women and girls support each other, there is no end to the heights they can reach.
You work for South Africa’s largest cell phone provider. It’s a good job. It keeps you busy as a single young man in Cape Town, and you genuinely like the work. You rise quickly through the ranks and you soon find yourself as the company’s youngest vice president. One day, your boss asks you to attend a breakfast meeting with a women’s legal aid organization. You don’t see the connection, but you go anyway. The organization impresses you, and you want to help. So today, your company hosts breakfast summits attended by corporate executives to discuss the ways that South Africa’s corporate sector can improve the status of the country’s women and girls.

Know your facts: South Africa is a dangerous place to be a woman. Every 8 hours, a woman is killed by her intimate partner, and 30% of girls are raped before they even turn 18. Educating men and boys is the key to ending this violence. But so is forging new kinds of partnerships. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports women’s organizations in South Africa to think outside of the box and to seek innovative partnerships to end violence against women.
You are a young woman living in Rwanda with your parents and five siblings. Your mother glowed throughout the entire time she was pregnant with your third baby sister. But the baby died soon after birth from something that could have been prevented if only it had been caught in time. You don’t have kids of your own yet, but you want to dedicate your life to giving Rwandan mothers and babies a fighting chance. So you create a cell phone app that helps pregnant women access health care, compare pregnancy milestones, and understand pre/post natal risk factors.

Know your facts: As mothers struggle to access healthcare, balanced nutrition, and basic services, a baby born in Rwanda today is 8 times more likely to die at birth than a baby girl born in Canada. But this is not just an issue in Rwanda. Infant mortality rates in the U.S. state of Mississippi rank near those in Botswana and Bahrain. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports women and girls who are innovating to save the lives of mothers and babies around the world.
You’re a young woman living in Iran. You love sports, and everyone says you’re the most competitive girl they know. What can you say? You like to win. Yesterday, you snuck into a volleyball match to watch your favourite team play. But, today, you’re in jail for it.

Know your facts: In Iran, women are banned from attending many sporting events. Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 26 year-old law graduate, spent 5 months in Tehran’s prison for attending a men’s volleyball match in 2015. During the Rio 2016 games (as in, the Olympic games this year), Iranian activist Darya Safai held up a banner that read “Let Iranian women enter their stadiums.” She was asked to leave. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports women around the world who stand up for their rights.
You live in Toronto, Canada. You have two daughters who are strong, smart, and talented. They are both away at University this year, and you can’t wait for them to come home for the holidays so you can spoil them rotten and hear about their lives on campus. You wonder if they are dating anyone. You wonder if they are keeping their grades up. You wonder how you got so lucky to have such great kids.

Know your facts: Don’t relax yet, Mom. Did you know that a college campus is one of the most dangerous places for a Canadian woman to be? It is estimated that rape or attempted rape among women in higher educational institutions is between 20-25% over the course of a college career. That's why The MATCH Fund supports women around the world who are fighting to end rape culture.
You were never born. Because the woman who would have been your mother was never born. Because the people who would have been your grandparents didn’t want a daughter. Because, instead, they tried and tried until they had a son. Their son is, indeed, a great man. But you would have been, too.

Know your facts: You may be a man, but you’re the victim of female infanticide. Female infanticide is the deliberate killing of girl babies, whether it’s before they’re born or shortly after. Some families choose to do this for financial reasons—they want to invest in the best bet for their survival and future income. And they are taught that the best bet is a male baby. Some mothers choose to do this because they simply don’t want their baby girls to have lives like theirs. This happens around the world but most notably in India and China, where millions of infanticides have happened in the past decade. That's why The MATCH Fund works to ensure that girls are valued and treated as equals.
You were just a child living in the slums of Nairobi the first time you were forced to sell your body to feed your family. You contracted HIV at the age of 13. You felt scared and alone. But, one day, you saw girls your age boxing in a makeshift ring near the market. They looked so powerful. You knew you had that power inside you, too. Today, you’re a boxing coach for girls in the Nairobi slums. Boxing saved your life. You want to give girls like you a fighting chance.

Know your facts: Nairobi is a vibrant city with a thriving tech and innovation scene. But, as is true of most big cities, there is a darker side. Nearly 60% of the people living in Nairobi live in informal housing with no access to basic services or healthcare. For women and girls, this picture can be especially bleak. Girls experience high rates of violence, and some are forced to use their bodies as currency. 41% of women will experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports boxing programs for girls in Nairobi’s slums. Girls learn to stand up for themselves and hold their ground--inside the boxing ring and out.
You can’t read these words. But you know your story all too well. When your mother realized she had given birth to a baby girl, she cried. You are smaller than your brothers because you are given less to eat. You have never been to school. You can’t spell your own name. Since you can’t rewrite history, you’ve decided to right the future. When you have a daughter someday, you won’t cry. You’ll feed her and you’ll find a way to ensure she gets an education. You’ll ask her to teach you to read and write. You will feel so powerful.

Know your facts: Millions of girls around the world don’t get an education just because they are girls. The very sad fact of the matter is that ⅔ of women in the world today cannot read or write. And some girls pay with their lives for the opportunity. Think of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head just for trying to go to school in Northern Pakistan. All girls deserve a chance to learn. That’s why The MATCH Fund helps girls around the world stay in school and take control of their own futures.
You live in Honduras. You are an Indigenous environmental and women’s rights activist. People tell you that you are the bravest woman they know. You stand up for what you believe in, and you don’t back down—not even when you are harassed or threatened. Not even when your four children are harassed and threatened, because you want to build a better world for them. Early one morning, you are assassinated in your own home by a hitman. That’s the price you pay for protecting your land and your people.

Know your facts: This is a true story. This actually happened to a woman named Berta Caceres, who was murdered in her home this year for being a woman human rights defender. She was known by those who loved her as the woman who wouldn’t leave you in peace until you were part of the fight. She believed in human rights that much. And Berta is not alone. Between 2010 and 2014, over a hundred activists were murdered in Honduras. In 2015, 31 women human rights defenders were killed around the world--lawyers, journalists, and LGBT rights advocates. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports those brave women worldwide who won’t leave you in peace until you’re part of the fight.
You were born to a well-off family in South Africa. You are educated. You feel safe. You have travelled the world. You have friends everywhere. You have never felt like you couldn’t achieve something just because you are a girl. You are married to a partner who loves and respects you. Your children—both your sons and your daughters—have every opportunity to succeed. You are happy.

Know your facts: There are lucky ones everywhere, in every country. But think of the unlucky ones: 147 rape cases are reported every day in South Africa, one of many countries where violence against women has become normalized. Violence against women around the globe is often committed at the hands of a husband or boyfriend. And the odds are stacked against girls everywhere. There are still 31 million girls who can’t attend primary school (that’s 4 million fewer boys than girls out of school.) Women are more likely to live in poverty and to experience many forms of discrimination. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports women and girls around the world to beat the odds--to feel safe, supported, and successful.
You are a 65-year-old Canadian Iranian university professor. You are well respected in your field, you care deeply about women’s rights, and you have years of research and publications under your belt. One semester, you go to Iran to research and see old friends. Suddenly, just before you are about to return to Canada, you are arrested. No one will tell you why. You are held without access to your lawyer or to your life-saving medications. Your family is given no information except that you are being held for “dabbling in feminism.”

Know your facts: This is the true story of a woman named Homa Hoodfar. She was finally released on September 26, 2016 after spending 112 days in an Iranian prison. So many women around the world are arrested for, well, being women. Think of the girl in Iran who was arrested for attending a volleyball match. Think of the woman in El Salvador who was imprisoned for having a miscarriage! That’s why The MATCH Fund stands with women everywhere who are fighting for their rights.
You live in the slums of Delhi. You are afraid to go to the public bathroom in the day because there is no privacy. And you are afraid to go at night because men and boys are known to hang around and harass girls. Girls’ lives had been destroyed that way. But that’s not your story; it’s your movie. You learn how to use a video camera, and you make a documentary about Delhi’s public bathrooms and the violence girls face there.

Know your facts: 2.4 billion people across the world don’t have a safe place to go to the bathroom. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to sexual violence when they use public toilets alone at night. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports girls in India to make documentaries about this and the many other issues they face. The girls’ film about harassment in the public toilets was released last year.
You were born in rural Nepal. Your mother died when you were little, so your sex education was left up to the village elders. You were told that when you got your period, the blood would shoot out of you with a bang! It would come with such force that it would hit you on the forehead. You were petrified. You no longer wanted to go to school because you didn’t know when your period would come. You didn’t want to embarrass yourself in front of your classmates with that loud noise and all that blood! So today, you educate Nepali girls about menstruation so they don’t believe the same myths you did.

Know your facts: Let’s face it. Menstruation has long been a taboo subject for women around the world. This is especially true for many women and girls in Nepal. A practice known as Chhaupadi sees women and girls banished to a cow shed during their periods. During this time, women aren’t allowed to cook, touch family members, go to school, or eat anything except bread and rice. This practice is humiliating and teaches girls to be ashamed of their own bodies. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports programs in Nepal that teach rural girls about their periods and the other changes that happen in their bodies at puberty.
You still live in the small Colombian town in which you grew up. In all this time, you have never seen a woman run for political office. Not one single time. Then it occurs to you: You have a college degree. You have a strong network of friends and family. You have smart ideas about changes you’d like to see in your city, and people seem to agree with you. So you run for office. And you lose to the male candidate. But you are not discouraged. You’ll keep running for office until you win. And you’ll encourage your female friends to run, too.

Know your facts: Colombia was one of the last countries in Latin America to allow women to vote. Today, just 20% of political seats in Colombia are held by women. How can women be truly represented if they aren’t making decisions in Congress? But it’s not just about the federal level. Colombian women are striving to gain political power at the local level where they can, arguably, have an even bigger impact on the day-to-day realities for other women. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports Colombian women to run and vote in local elections.
You are a single mother of three living in Nicaragua. Even though your teachers always told you that you were a natural leader, you were forced to drop out of school when you were 17. You don’t have a lot of career options, but you do have to put food on the table. Sex work is one way to provide for your family. But you are routinely denied healthcare, stigmatized by your community, treated poorly by the police, and at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. So you organize your fellow sex workers. You train them in safe sex practices. You invite healthcare workers, government leaders, and police officers to workshops about sex workers’ rights. When Nicaragua issues a national decree mandating healthcare professionals to provide care without judgement, you realize one thing: You don’t actually need a diploma to prove that you’re a natural leader.

Know your facts: The majority of Nicaragua’s sex workers are under the age of 30, have several children, and are the only breadwinners in their family. There are nearly 15,000 sex workers in Nicaragua, and they are all at a higher risk of violence, abuse, HIV/AIDS, and discrimination. That’s why The MATCH Fund supports safe sex training for sex workers and stands with them as they demand respect and fair treatment.
You’re a radio star in South Kivu. You slip into the sound booth, put on your headphones and, suddenly, you’re on the air. Nothing can stop you from telling your story. You talk about the violence you have seen. You talk about the discrimination that is part of your day-to-day reality. You talk about the strong women you know and how they have been your role models. Who knows: maybe by speaking your truth on the radio, you are becoming a role model for a little girl who dreams of wearing these headphones one day.

Know your facts: 76% of people in Africa’s rural areas own a radio, making radio the single most effective way of communicating across households. Media should be a mirror of a community. That’s why it’s so scary when women switch on the radio and don’t hear anyone who sounds like them (ah hem- is another woman) or who can speak to their life experiences. When asked why women weren’t given more air time or more leadership opportunities, a male station manager in South Kivu actually responded,“because women are, by nature, weak, and incapable to valuably represent the radio.” That’s why The MATCH Fund supports women to rule the airwaves in South Kivu.

 

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