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2021-2022 PROGRAMS

Twelve Action-Oriented Research Programs

Women’s Economic Empowerment

Empowering Women Artisans in Afghanistan

Light of Afghanistan


Blumera in collaboration with The Turquoise Mountain Institute


WFI is expanding our collaboration with Blumera and the Turquoise Mountain Institute to create a new collection of clothing, accessories, and home goods utilizing innovative upcycled materials while providing dignified employment to women – who are often peacebuilders – in conflict zones such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Inspired by the natural landscapes, the artisanal and architectural culture, and the spiritual essence of the regions, the creation of these collections will use native materials and traditional designs.  Most women handworkers do not have employment contracts, legal rights or any form of social protection, and are often not paid enough to escape the poverty cycle. Continuing our work in Afghanistan and Myanmar, WFI’s program would ensure women artisans in the region receive fair and equitable compensation; have access to alternative and safe opportunities for employment; preserve their cultural and craft traditions; promote the work of these artisans locally and overseas; and give women a new voice in the peace process.


Promoting Global Environmental Action in the

Fashion Industry


Middlebury University’s Institute of International Studies Environmental Policy Program in collaboration with a US-based environmental agency; Qatari-based fashion hubs, incubators, and women designers


WFI is partnering with the Middlebury College of International Studies International Environmental Policy Program to provide in-depth policy recommendations for a U.S.-based environmental agency on a potential regulatory framework for the fashion industry. Waste and hazardous environmental impact caused by textile manufacturers are currently regulated within the United States, however, due to the globalized supply chains of the fast fashion industry, there is no framework in place that addresses the environmental damage and pollution caused by clothing that is consumed in the United States yet manufactured in countries where such regulations may not exist. The Middlebury team’s task is to recommend a regulatory framework or policy on holding retail giants operating in the United States accountable for adverse environmental outcomes in the United States resulting from their harmful manufacturing practices abroad, which often impact women who comprise the overwhelming majority of garment workers. In collaboration with Qatari-based fashion hubs, incubators, and women designers, WFI will host a fashion show at our Spring Vanguard event to demonstrate that fashion can be trendy, reasonably priced, and sustainable. 

Breaking Barriers to Expand Opportunities for Women-Led Businesses in Latin America


Pro Mujer in collaboration with Tec de Monterrey, Mexico

WFI will expand its collaboration with Pro Mujer, an organization that focuses on providing financial inclusion, health and education programs in Latin America, to help increase financial access for women entrepreneurs in the missing middle in Latin America and perform a deep dive research into the missing middle for the region with a gender lens. The missing middle is a global challenge for small and growing businesses (SGBs) that are too big for microfinance and informal local investors, and too small or too risky for banks, private equity firms, development finance institutions and other direct investors, which are usually focused on financing later stage and larger companies. A research team from Tec de Monterrey will better identify this gap, focusing on Latin-American women entrepreneurs. The team will review and analyze the deals in the region and disaggregate the information by gender, to better understand the gaps and needs for women entrepreneurs.

Building a New Humanity in Mexico by Alleviating Gender-Based Violence Through Women's Entrepreneurship


The Ananda Group in collaboration with a Kentucky-based university program on community leadership and business development


WFI is expanding its collaboration with The Ananda Group, an investment fund that supports entrepreneurs who are empowering consumers to adopt an ethical, healthy and environmentally conscious lifestyle, without the use of animals, to expand their Mesa Redonda “Round Table” program operated under their NGO Association of Vegan Entrepreneurs of Mexico (EVM). Mesa Redonda contributes to the recovery of plant-based businesses from the Covid-19 crisis while also reaching out in support of vulnerable groups in our society. In this program, participating vegan restaurants invite their customers to purchase a food item to be delivered to communities in need, including women and children migrants, and indigenous women who have suffered from violence. In partnership with a Kentucky-based university, a research team will design an expansion plan to inform EVM’s strategy to incorporate more restaurants, other types of businesses, effective advertising to increase purchases by customers, new geographies, and specifically more organizations supporting women who have suffered from gender-based violence (GBV). 

Colors of Jamaica


The Rollins Enterprise Center in Rose Town, Jamaica as an affiliate of the Prince’s Foundation

WFI is collaborating with The Prince’s Foundation, Rose Town Foundation, and Kingston Creative on a three-year development focusing on the creation of a cohort of local artisans based in Rose Town who will develop the craft skills necessary to be able to earn a living selling unique high quality textile products to both a local market and an international fashion market. The artisans will create handmade crochet items, which may utilize the Foundation at Dumfries House’s natural dye techniques using crop production from the Rose Town farm to the natural dyeing process in the long term. The first year will focus on setting the foundation for the artisans to learn and enhance their artisanal skills. To overcome barriers to participation the initial social offerings will be provided free of charge along with materials. The program will engage females who are at risk of domestic violence or young mothers who may find the flexible working model that comes from being a self-employed crafts person appealing.

Women and Education

A New Horizon for Women’s Education in Afghanistan: A Women’s University Without Walls

Light of Afghanistan


Afghan Institute of Learning in collaboration with Lynn University Social Impact Lab


Due to current political and socioeconomic insecurity in Afghanistan, WFI is exploring with the Afghan Institute of Learning and Lynn University’s Social Impact Lab a virtual path forward for the first private women’s university. The virtual College Preparatory School will include courses adaptable to the online format such as administration, leadership, entrepreneurship, English, international relations, and vocational education (including teaching). AIL will leverage their network to provide a space and internet access to students of the virtual school through a Computer Lab. The Lynn University team will provide research on best practices for instructors of online classes and courses that would most benefit Afghan women, as well as resources for reclaimed iPads and technology from Lynn students and funding prospects for the virtual College Preparatory School within the FIN (Funding Information Network) data base of 144,000 foundations based at Lynn. This data base provides grants to support local and global social impact organizations.

Women and Sustainable Systems

All of Us Taking Care of All of Us: A Global Template for Food Rescue

White Pony Express in collaboration with Stanford University Community Health and Prevention Research Program


WFI is expanding its collaboration with White Pony Express (WPE), a novel food rescue program, with the goal of “helping to eliminate hunger and poverty by delivering the abundance all around us to those in need – with love,” and Stanford University’s Community Health and Prevention Research (CHPR). This collaboration will enable an impact and needs assessment of WPE programs, in particular the survivors, the mothers, the women juggling families, jobs, and those carrying the burden of a myriad of losses during this pandemic who WPE serves. WFI will host an international event that highlights this new template for philanthropic giving and shared prosperity in which “all of us” are simply taking “taking care of all of us.”

Incorporating a Whole Farm Assessment Tool into Cost-Effective, Equitable and Environmentally Sustainable Food Systems

The Sustainable Food Trust in collaboration with Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


WFI will continue its collaboration with Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) and Cornell University to develop a whole farm sustainability assessment for use with smallholder farmers in Malawi. The assessment would feature environmental and social sustainability, with a strong focus on social equity, in particular women’s empowerment, building on the work currently being undertaken by Cornell looking at strengthening these indicators. This project would feed into the SFT’s Global Farm Metric initiative aiming to develop an internationally common framework for measuring on-farm sustainability. Our goal is for the Global Farm Metric to be developed to allow it to be adopted by farmers, food companies, investors and governments - allowing us to measure & monitor the impact of agriculture in a common way, ultimately driving progress towards more regenerative and equitable food and farming systems.

Growing the Coffee and Cocoa Sector through Equity for Women Farmers


Partnership for Gender Equity in collaboration with Yale University Jackson Institute for Global Affairs


WFI will expand its collaboration with the Partnership for Gender Equity and Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs to conduct research and advise program design for the development of the Gender Equity Index within the cocoa and coffee supply chains. The Gender Equity Index will motivate extension and advisory service (EAS) providers in the coffee and cocoa sectors to embed gender transformative practices into their operations and programs. The GEI will work in service of key supply chain actors, improving resilience for millions of farming women and their families, increasing accountability and return on investment for businesses, and strengthening the sustainability of the sector overall.

Women's Leadership in Conflict Resolution

Craftswomenship: Enhancing the Social and Economic Inclusion of Migrant Women


Nest in collaboration with The Paris Institute of Political Studies


WFI is expanding its collaboration with the Paris Institute of Political Studies’ (Sciences Po) Research and Educational Programme on Gender Studies (PRESAGE), to support young migrant and refugee women’s economic and social inclusion through craftwork. This program will lead to the creation of a report mapping the craft landscape within migrant and refugee programs in Europe for Nest, a nonprofit building a new handworker economy to increase global workforce inclusivity. Sciences Po will conduct research and outreach with networks serving refugee and migrant women to identify the groups that can benefit from Nest's Guild, a network providing artisans with free tools and resources to help their businesses thrive. Once identified, businesses will participate in a survey that allows them to join the Guild. The report will also provide key information about refugee and migrant women artisans in Europe to help Nest identify overarching trends that could allow Nest to devise programmatic and/or outreach efforts supporting this community as a whole. 


Countering the Global Crisis of Human Trafficking


The Rights Lab in collaboration, University of Nottingham in Collaboration with Rice University School of Social Sciences

WFI is collaborating with the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, the world’s largest group of modern slavery researchers, and Rice University’s School of Social Sciences to address the issue of human trafficking, a worldwide crisis and one that the global community has committed to end by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The topics in discussion for this program include: Human Trafficking and Climate Change, Human Trafficking and Forced Marriage, and Human Trafficking and Conflict, all of which may consider a regional perspective (Middle East and North Africa) or a global one.


Women’s Rights and the Peace Process in Afghanistan

Light of Afghanistan


Women for Afghan Women (WAW) in collaboration with Georgetown University School of Foreign Service/Institute for Women, Peace and Security


WFI is collaborating with Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace & Security and Women for Afghan Women on a program to advance the dialogue on Afghan women’s issues in the Afghan peace process through the creation of a new framework for discussion. Utilizing the Georgetown WPS Index as a starting point, it will provide an opportunity to have an enhanced dialogue about women’s rights and women’s lives in Afghanistan. The research is based on input from women’s groups and the negotiating parties combined with utilizing evidence-based data to track on-the-ground realities for women in Afghanistan.  The 2019 Georgetown WPS Index ranks 167 countries on women's equality and reveals trends in women's wellbeing across 11 indicators in the areas of security, justice and inclusion. Afghanistan currently ranks 166 out of 167 countries in the 2019/20 report. The goal of the project is to identify and track priority areas which require discussion and improvement during the peace discussions.