Mary Dailey Brown: President & CEO, SowHope
By Caroline Cox
SowHope is a nonprofit for women, by women. They target the 1.5 billion females around the globe who make “less than $2 a day.” Since forming in 2006, they say they’ve helped more than 20,000 women and their children in nine countries by providing them with wellness, education and economic programs.
During various international travels to places including Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa, India, Nepal, the Philippines and Haiti as the missions director of a church in Rockford, Mich., Brown came face to face with how impoverished women around the world are struggling to survive. She couldn’t believe that “in the 21st century, women were being treated as they are.” She cites dangerous working conditions, a low social status and little to no voice in decision-making. She decided to make it her life’s mission to bring health, education and other resources to women who are most in need.
PINK: What inspired the start of the organization?
Mary Dailey Brown: There were many think-tank organizations discussing the problems women face, but I was hard pressed to find one actually doing something. I asked my husband if we should try to start such our own. His reply was, “There should be hundreds of these. Let’s start the simplest model and hope others follow us. Maybe we can start a movement. After all, half the world is waiting.” In January 2006, with the help of about 10 friends, we started SowHope.
PINK: How does your organization improve the community?
MDB: One example is Madalena, a SowHope microloan recipient from Uganda. She was able to grow her seed business so successfully that she was the first one in her village who could afford to send her son to a university. That’s why it’s so important to empower impoverished women. When you help them, they help their children and neighbors. The whole community and generations that follow will benefit when you help women. Since starting SowHope, I’ve realized women not only bring life to this planet, they are the primary nurturers of the human race.
PINK: What has been your proudest moment in this organization?
MDB: It was while visiting AIDS widows in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These are women who have been rejected by their families because they have AIDS – they are cast out to die alone. If our partner wasn’t helping them with a simple food program and income generating projects like basket weaving, I can’t imagine how much more terrible their lives would be.
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