A Sisterhood of Changemakersclose
“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist
Many of the world’s most useful innovations have been born from necessity, but when good ideas are shared, even greater things can truly happen. The Mothers of Invention program, presented by Toyota as part of Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit, highlights some of the world’s most promising innovators and inventors as well as providing them with $50,000 in grant money to help aid their projects. Honorees featured at the 2013 Summit include Tara Roberts and Sejal Hathi, co-founders of girltank, a virtual community for enterprising young women.
Sejal and Tara both had experience in creating social change before they met – Sejal with her Girls helping Girls non-profit addressing young women’s issues and Tara with her fascinating documentation of “amazing girls doing amazing things” in countries across the world. When the two women’s paths crossed, the opportunity to join forces presented itself. Sejal explained that “knowing there was another woman with a very similar vision was inspiring to me and gave me hope.”
Their collaboration, the first link in a now extensive network, ultimately morphed Sejal’s Girls Helping Girls into girltank. Girltank provides a much-needed infrastructure for girls starting promising projects and helps them sustain their work and gain visibility as real innovators.
Girltank has three main pillars – connect, inspire, and fund. These themes run throughout all of girltank’s offerings, which include an online forum and workshops for girls interested in similar causes to find each other and collaborate, an inspiring database of literature on the vulnerabilities and issues women face, and a crowd-funding platform that funnels financial support to the most promising ventures.
Some of the many girltankers are Noreen Bautista, Anne Mariposa, and Patricia Lalisan from the Philippines. These three young women transformed the water hyacinth lily – a ubiquitous weed that often clogs the region’s water system and incurs an enormous cost to the government – into an ingenious material for fashion. By “leatherizing” the weed to make women’s handbags, the three college graduates not only solved an expensive, ecological problem, but the sales and manufacture of the accessory have created jobs for many rural Filipino women as well.
Toyota is proud to honor these committed founders of girltank among the many distinguished guests at 2013's Women in the World Summit in New York City.