Ordinary People To Make An Extraordinary Difference

Global India Fund (GIF)’s mission is to support innovative non-profit organizations committed to improving health and saving lives by inspiring global philanthropy.  Global India Fund offers giving options at all levels, allowing ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference. Today, Global India Fund has hundreds of NGO partners working in the health, education, and livelihood sector of India.   GIF is guided by a very simple and powerful principle – “people care.”  Therefore, we need to harness this collective caring and give people meaningful opportunities to engage in philanthropy.
The idea to develop the Global India Fund (GIF) evolved in March 2007 after I travelled with Ashley Judd, Kate Roberts, the Population Services International team, and the National Geographic Channel to film a documentary about the calamitous health situation in India. This was a life changing experience because it brought me to the forefront of poverty, lack of basic human rights, and death.

But more importantly, it brought me to the forefront of passionate social entrepreneurs and leaders who are committed to addressing complex social and health challenges by pioneering new and innovative solutions.  I had a responsibility to be a messenger and voice for the people I had met – to share their powerful stories and to develop meaningful ways to engage the global community.  This proved to be an ambitious task because despite rising levels of philanthropy on a global scale, the need still remains great at the grassroots level in India, where local NGOs are working with scarce means. On the international donorship side, lack of clear mechanisms to make contributions across the world, lack of transparency as to where donated funds are directed, and a vague sense of which organizations are truly credible, prevent people from contributing and supporting on-the-ground programs.  The Global India Fund powerfully addresses these problems by connecting credible organizations in India with the global donor community. GIF represents an inspiring innovation in the philanthropic sector by creating a social marketplace that gives a face and a voice to local NGOs, and empowers donors to make informed and involved giving decisions. I can’t think of a more opportune time to raise the consciousness of people here in the U.S. who have the means to make positive change.  There is an urgent need for private investments to help springboard proven health and empowerment programs that have the power to reach so many people, regardless of whether they live in a rural village or an urban setting. 

Today millions of girls and young women in India are held back from achieving their full potential. In India, a woman dies from childbirth every 5 minutes; 200 girls enter into prostitution everyday; and in India the legal age of marriage is 18, but almost half of all girls marry before then.   These statistics are coupled with an alarming increase in gender-based violence with a rape occurring every 22 minutes in India.  Investing in girls and women helps local economies, increases a state’s political stability, and speeds up economic growth.  $1 in the hands of a woman is worth $10 in the hands of a man – because women invest in families and communities. 

One year ago a 23 year old girl with dreams of becoming a doctor was gang raped by six men, savagely beaten and thrown out of a moving bus in Delhi. The woman who has become “India’s daughter” died of injuries and sparked deep grief and fury across India. Grief for her horrifying ordeal, and fury that politicians have ignored the huge problem of rape and sexual violence against women for so long. Women are often blamed for their own rapes, police refuse to hear reports from victims, and some women report being harassed by the very authorities they hope will protect them. Restructuring the legal system to convict and punish rapists is only part of the solution.  At the core of this tragedy and so many more in India, is gender equity -- exactly why we believe that investing in young girls will result in a stronger future for everyone.

Most recently, Global India Fund launched the INVEST Campaign (#INVEST), a mass media campaign focused on raising awareness and supporting NGOs working on the ground to address gender-based violence and discrimination against girls and women in India.  Together, we will INVEST in the people who INVEST in everyone else.

Through the INVEST Campaign, GIF has partnered and will continue to partner with many NGOs and programs.  For example, did you know that 1 out of 3 girls drop out of school in India and menstruation and lack of hygiene are key reasons?  Did you know that 1 out of 3 girls/women in India are anemic?  These are significant problems with simple solutions.  Global India Fund has already supported 6000 girls through the Johnson and Johnson Stayfree Women for Change campaign, providing adolescent girls with health education and hygiene products allowing them to stay in school longer.  Each girl receives a 6 month supply of Stayfree sanitary napkins; two medical check-ups and counseling; two Hemoglobin estimation tests; and a 3-month course of Iron - Folic Acid and Calcium Tablets.  A significant problem with a very simple solution that is affordable and meaningful -- something we can all INVEST in.

GIF partnered with humanitarian and actress Ashley Judd and hosted the “Invest in Girls, Invest in a Stronger Future” benefit gala. Ashley has been a tireless advocate for girls and women in India, and across the world.  Through her extensive travels and global advocacy efforts, Ashley has raised the profile of women and girl’s issues among politicians, policy makers and the general public. Every dollar raised at the event supported PSI programs for girls and women throughout India.  
The INVEST Campaign is partnering with Sneha, Mumbai to generate support for their Adolescent Health and Empowerment program which reaches over 5,000 young girls to provide a comprehensive health awareness, life skills education and vocational training program.  GIF is partnering with Magic Bus, to increase global support for their unique “sport for development” approach that empowers children and youth from vulnerable communities throughout India.  
Global India Fund’s INVEST Campaign will give millions of girls living in poverty the opportunity to control the way they view the world, the freedom to choose the role they will play in it, and the power to define their own destiny.

Dr. Amita N. Vyas
Dr. Amita N. Vyas
Founder & Chair, Global India Fund
Global India Foundation is an initiative to contribute in India's efforts to realise its aspirations of playing a meaningful and constructive role in regional and global affairs and promote international interdependence.