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Women Hold Up Half The Sky – old Chinese proverb At Seventh Generation, an ongoing resolution is to make a difference in the lives of others -- particularly in the lives of women who are trying to gain better education, better health care, and better wages around the world. Through our annual donation program -- Seventh Generation dedicates 10% of its profits to non-profit community, environmental, health, and responsible business organizations working for positive change -- we reach many women trying to lead sustainable lives.

We salute women everywhere for holding up half the sky and for making communities stronger and more fruitful. We truly believe that business is one of the most powerful instruments for meaningful change on our planet. So we are proud to work with organizations that support and empower women to start businesses, schools, and educational programs that will ultimately make women and their communities stronger. We believe that an investment in women can be a powerful key to economic progress. The following is a sampling of the community-building work Seventh Generation supported in 2009: WHOLE PLANET FOUNDATION In partnership with Whole Foods, Seventh Generation helps fund micro-lending programs in 17 countries. The clients in this micro-lending program are 98% female.

The lending programs raise the living standards and secure economic justice for thousands of women and their families. (A 2005 study by Goldman Sachs found that educating girls and women leads to higher wages, reduced maternal and child mortality, and better health. The impact, the study found, is felt not only in the women's lifetimes, but also in the health, education, and productivity of future generations.) WOMEN'S ACTION TO GAIN ECONOMIC SECURITY WAGES helps low-income women in the greater San Francisco Bay Area establish housecleaning service cooperatives that use environmentally-friendly methods and products to protect the health of both co-op members and their clients. OVARIAN CANCER RESEARCH FUND Seventh Generation worked on an initiative with the OCRF to educate women on the signs of ovarian cancer. A $22,000 matching donation program represented $1 for each woman expected to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in a single year. SUSTAINABLE HEALTH ENTERPRISES SHE identified a problem in developing countries: millions of girls and women miss up to 50 days of school or work per year because they do not have access to affordable sanitary pads when they menstruate.

SHE has developed a micro-lending program that enables women to start their own businesses to manufacture and distribute affordable, quality, and eco-friendly sanitary pads. The sanitary pads are made of local raw materials, instead of imported materials, to ensure affordability and accessibility with the aim of keeping girls in school and women at work. Women everywhere need to help one another realize their potential! Let us know what micro-lending or other women-focused sustainable businesses you support. Sheila Hollender Director of Corporate Giving Seventh Generation


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Sheila B likes to write about women's issues and the environment.