The Abbott Fund, the foundation of Abbott, announced last month that it had formed a partnership with the US Secretary of State's International Fund for Women and Girls to aid women and girls in Burma. During the next two years, the Abbott Fund will provide $1 million to the Secretary's International Fund for Women and Girls to support grassroots organizations that are working to advance health, education, and economic opportunity for women in Burma.
This public–private partnership follows a recent fact-finding trip to Burma in May 2012, organized by the US Department of State's office on Global Women's Issues. Under the leadership of Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer, the delegation included representatives from the Abbott Fund and other private-sector organizations. Discussing critical challenges confronting Burma with Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders and members of civil society, the delegation also assessed grassroots programs with the goal of identifying partnership opportunities to further improve the lives of women in the country.
"Through decades of challenges, the people of Burma have developed a resilient and resourceful civil society," said Ambassador Verveer, in July 16, 2012, Abbott press release. "By supporting existing grassroots organizations, this public–private partnership with the Abbott Fund will help build the capacity of local organizations and communities to drive progress and development for women."
The imperative to support women at the local level was further expounded by Abbott officials. "During our recent trip to Burma with Ambassador Verveer, we met dozens of women who are leading local organizations, making significant contributions to address critical community needs," said Katherine Pickus, vice-president, the Abbott Fund, in the release. "The Abbott Fund aims to further strengthen the capabilities of these organizations to advance health, education and economic opportunities for women—at a transformational time that holds great promise for the country's future."
All partnership funding will be provided to Burmese organizations staffed by the people of Burma. Key areas of programmatic focus include health awareness, prevention, and treatment; education and training; and expanding economic opportunities for women. Specific organizations will be identified by the Secretary's International Fund for Women and Girls in the coming months.
The Abbott Fund's new grants in Burma follow efforts by Abbott and the Abbott Fund to provide humanitarian aid in the country in recent years, including more than $600,000 in support for relief and recovery efforts after Cyclone Nargis. The Abbott Fund provided $250,000 to advance the work of CARE, an organization focused on empowering women, and Abbott donated $386,000 in vitamins and antibiotics to AmeriCares, Heart to Heart, Direct Relief International and MAP International.
The Secretary’s International Fund for Women and Girls is a US State Department-led, privately-funded initiative committed to providing flexible, rapid, targeted, and high-impact grants to nongovernmental organizations working to meet the critical needs of women and girls around the world. The State Department is committed to advancing the rights of women and girls as a central focus of US foreign policy interests, in partnership with the private and nonprofit sectors.