The Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund provides financial support to African organizations whose work advances leadership and equality for women and girls. The Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund celebrates Karen’s transformative leadership over twelve years as Executive Director with Crossroads International before her death in 2015. The Fund honours her life-long commitment to advancing women’s rights by supporting projects to reduce violence against women and girls; facilitate the participation of women in decision making; and the increase of social and economic autonomy of women in Africa.
The fund also provides individual scholarships for leaders and emerging leaders. Generously supported by individual donations, the fund is a tribute to Karen’s vision and legacy of supporting women’s leadership. In the fall of 2015 the Crossroads International Board of Directors appointed a volunteer advisory council which received applications from Crossroads International Partners annually.
Recipients of the grants and scholarship
BoMake Rural Project was awarded the 2019 Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund grant to support an entrepreneurial group of women launch a business to make washable and affordable sanitary pads. The Tizabalazele Make Sanitary Project assists schoolgirls in the country while providing a steady income for the women weavers who produce them. It tackles the challenge schoolgirls are facing in the education system. Bomake provides the women, and their daughters, access to an environmentally friendly option during their periods. By selling the pads, it also provides income, enabling them to leverage their sewing skills to feed their children and support their families. Read full story.
Mukelo Thwala, Human Resources Officer at Gone Rural in Eswatini was awarded the 2019 Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund scholarship to help her build her skills in order to keep working and training employees as well as the local artisans. She manages and develops a staff of 28 people and 782 rural women artisans across 13 producer groups all over the kingdom. She ensures that they are all achieving their personal and professional development goals in line with the overall mission of increasing the economic empowerment of Eswatini’s rural women.
RESACIFROAT (Réseau d’Appui à la Citoyenneté des Femmes Rurales d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Tchad (RESACIFROAT) received the grant to increase the participation of rural women in local governance. With less than 10% of women elected in the national assembly, the political sphere in Burkina Faso is mostly dominated by men. Women’s under representation in politics is present at every level, nationally as well as locally. With this funding, RESACIFROAT aims to increase the number of women voters and candidates in the 2020 local election. The organization is raising awareness around the importance of voting and participating in local decision-making spheres and governance and also supports young women leaders to run for local offices. Read full story.
Racheal Ayikwei is a Project Assistant with the WiLDAF Ghana Access to Justice Program as well and a Girls Empowerment Club (GEC) Facilitator under the Girls Empowerment Program. In May 2019, she attented COADY’s Women’s Leadership in Community Development. She has been with WiLDAF Ghana since 2008. Her responsibilities include facilitation and training GEC members in selected schools. She also organizes community outreach and educational trips for club members, organizes network meetings and helps create awareness on violence against women and girls.
ABANTU for Development’ Young Women’s Mentorship Program (YWMP) in Ghana was awarded with the grant in 2017 to implement the Documenting the Experience of Young Women as Election Observers project. Through this initiative 25 members of YWMP who participated in the 2016 Parliamentary and Presidential Elections have documented their experiences as observers and drafted recommendations on how to better include women in all levels of electoral processes in the country. These findings and recommendations will be shared with key stakeholders of elections including the Electoral Commissioners who are engaged in the drafting and will be also involved in the implementation of the recommendations made. Read full story.
Farida Hassan Abdallah attended COADY’s Asset-Based and Citizen-Led Development training from October 26, 2017 to November 10, 2017. As a Program Officer, the course provided Farida with tools and techniques to strengthen her capacity in conducting her daily work with local communities in Knowledge Centres. The course aligns with TGNP’s specific leadership in facilitating community participatory research allowing citizens to assess their assets and needs in order to advocate with local authorities for improvements.
In 2016, the inaugural Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership grant was awarded to Crossroads partner Groupe de réflexion et d’action Femme Démocratie et Développement (GF2D). The funds supported GF2D’s Week of the Girl initiative, a three-day event promoting leadership among girls. From April 3 to April 5, 2017, different conferences and workshops were organized around the theme Investing in young women’s leadership for a better world to help girls and women develop their self-esteem, their self-confidence, their leadership skills and entrepreneurial spirit. GF2D promotes the well-being of women and children in rural and urban areas in Togo and has been a Crossroads partner since 2007. Read the full story.
Zandile Grace Dlamini was awarded the first scholarship. Ms. Dlamini is the Service Delivery Manager with The Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS). FLAS has been Crossroads’ partner since 2010 and their mission is to champion access to quality and non-discriminatory Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights information and services in Swaziland. Ms. Dlamini participated in a course at COADY International Institute in Antigonish, NS in 2017.
About Karen Takacs
Karen Takacs was a vibrant leader and women’s rights activist. Her leadership at Crossroads has had a lasting impact on the lives of women and girls. Through innovative partnerships with local African organizations, women and girls victimized by violence and abuse have increased access to services. Women leaders have a stronger voice, increased access to decision making and increased political representation. Girls have opportunities to learn about and assert their rights and believe that they too can become leaders. More women are earning an income through innovative approaches transforming traditional female work into viable businesses. Karen also played a pivotal role as an advocate for women’s equality in the international development sector in Canada helping ensure women’s equality remained on the international development agenda of government and Canadian international development organizations.