When my fellow co-founders and I started Creative Associates International in 1977, we were four young women who knew women could change the world. Since then, we have witnessed the achievements of so many women and have even had the honor of supporting some of their efforts, all the while learning from them and their unique experiences.
In their hands, more girls have gained access to education, vulnerable groups have found a voice and neighbors have joined together to build peace. Yet, often the efforts of many women go unrecognized, despite the fact that so many have benefited from their achievements.
In this book, we aim to shine a spotlight on 14 such women who exemplify Creative’s mission to “support people around the world to realize the positive change they seek.”
All 14 women profiled in the following pages were nominated by their professional peers in 2015 and selected by a committee of experts. Creative has had the honor and privilege of collaborating with the 14 selected women.
Typically without fanfare, these women diligently work for the benefit of others.
Their commitment to change is unrivaled. When civil war erupted in Syria, then 21-year-old Hala Khairalla started reporting from the streets of Aleppo. She knew she was putting her life on the line to ensure that the story was heard around the world. While covering a protest, she was shot, gravely wounded and risked arrest. After her recovery, Hala resumed her reporting duties, knowing that people needed the news she delivered. Now, as the head of Radio Nasaeem, the first woman-owned independent radio station broadcasting in Syria, she remains a voice for change.
They are an inspiration to others, especially girls and women. When Saleha Parveen left her home in rural India to start teaching at the village school, she bucked tradition and defied her neighbors’ belief that women should stay at home. Today, Saleha is a model in the community, and she uses her platform to reach out to rural families, just like her own, and show them ways to keep their children in school and help them achieve.
They are changing the system for the better. In Morocco’s Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz region, child labor and school dropout rates are high. Karima Mkika is determined to change this. While she provides crisis support to children and families in need, Karima is also working to change her country’s laws, including raising the legal working age.
I am inspired by these women who change lives every day despite such major obstacles. I hope you will also find inspiration in these 14 stories and join me in honoring the millions of other untold stories of women making change.
M. Charito Kruvant
Co-Founder and CEO
Creative Associates International