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International Women’s Day Spotlight: Dhanya Rao, Development Coordinator at Malala Fund

Dhanya Rao is the Development Coordinator at the globally recognized non-profit organization, Malala Fund. Her role as the Development Coordinator includes building relationships with grassroots donors and young supporters, with the hope that they will remain supporters of Malala Fund for many years to come!

This International Women’s Day, Linjer is celebrating all the empowering women that inspire us every day. As a female founded brand, we believe in the importance of uplifting and amplifying the voices of trailblazing women in our communities.

Q: Could you tell our readers why the issue of girls’ education is so important, and how it may relate to other humanitarian issues?

More than 130 million girls are out of school. Despite many years of progress made, girls’ education remains under threat. One of the most visible examples is the current ban on girls’ education in Afghanistan. Malala Fund is working to break down the barriers keeping girls from accessing 12 years of free, safe quality education. We do that in three main ways. We advocate for the resources and policy changes needed to help girls learn, invest in local education activists and amplify the voices of girls fighting for change.

Girls’ education is an intersectional issue and impacts various sectors. Educating young women strengthens economies and creates jobs, leads to stronger health outcomes for all citizens, reduces the risk of conflict and ensures the continued health of our planet (our social media team actually made a TikTok that shows this really well!). Malala Fund does what we do because we know education equality is key to transformative, global progress.

Credit Tess Thomas for Malala Fund
      Tess Thomas for Malala Fund

Q: For people who care about this cause, what could they do to help? (Besides making donations, what can people do to help raise awareness and bring more people to the cause?)

Malala Fund is privileged to have a large, diverse and active supporter base of individuals committed to the power of girls’ education, and there are many ways to get involved!

We encourage everyone to learn from the perspectives of young women by subscribing to Assembly, Malala Fund’s digital newsletter and publication. Share what you learn. Malala began blogging about education at age 11, and Assembly honors that legacy by providing girls a platform to write about their lives and the issues they care about. We’re also always accepting submissions from girls, so if you or someone you know has a story to tell, we want to hear it!

You can also fundraise on behalf of Malala Fund. This approach allows your creativity and talents to shine through while giving you the opportunity to work with your community. You can rally your friends and family to support your fundraiser. If you’re passionate about education and equality, chances are they will be too and feel inspired to contribute! Some of our favorite fundraisers include a young supporter who sold home-grown tomatoes and donated the proceeds to Malala Fund and a supporter who promised to run one mile for every $10 donated to Malala Fund!

Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to Malala Fund’s cause?

Malala Fund centers women and girls in our work every day. But International Women’s Day is a powerful opportunity to focus global attention on the challenges, accomplishments and perspectives of women and girls. It is also a great moment to remind individuals, policymakers and companies everywhere of how they can help fight for a more equal future. We are grateful to partner with purpose-driven brands, like Linjer, who are making commitments in honor of this day and helping us get every girl in school.

Credit Insiya Syed for Malala Fund

Insiya Syed for Malala Fund

Q: What is your role at Malala Fund? Could you tell us your story? Why is this cause important to you?

As the Development Coordinator at Malala Fund, I steward our grassroots donors who are passionate about girls’ education and eager to make a difference. The role involves a lot of community outreach and allows me to build relationships with young supporters, often students, with the hope that they will remain supporters of Malala Fund for many years to come.

My journey to Malala Fund was most shaped by the women who came before me. My Pati (grandmother) was a teacher in Tamil Nadu, India who took immense pride in her work and prioritized girls’ schooling. She understood the power educated girls have to transform communities. I also think of her daughter, my Amma, who not only had access to quality education, but was the top student in her community. I stand on the shoulders of these women, and working toward a world where every girl can learn and lead is my way of keeping my family history alive. I also must mention that I interned at Malala Fund while I was an undergraduate student, and that experience completely reaffirmed my passion for this cause!

Jane Hahn for Malala Fund

Jane Hahn for Malala Fund

Q: And finally, would you like to call attention to some of Malala Fund’s recent initiatives?

Absolutely — there is so much amazing work being led at Malala Fund. But a focus I find myself talking about often with donors and friends is our work on girls’ education and climate justice.

Girls are bearing a disproportionate impact of climate-related events, having their education disrupted by flooding, droughts and more. If current trends continue, by 2025 climate change will prevent more than 12.5 million girls from completing their education each year. But educating girls is one of the most powerful yet overlooked strategies in the fight against climate change. That’s why, in addition to research, Malala Fund is amplifying the voices of climate activists, investing in partners working with climate impacted communities and calling on leaders to reduce emissions, support adaptation efforts and invest in education equality. If we can close the education gap, we can create a greener, fairer future. That’s a world I want to live in!

Credit_Tolu Onibokun for Malala Fund

Tolu Onibokun for Malala Fund

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