Great Charities for Women and Girls

Have women's issues taken center stage? Yes. Recent years have seen a rejuvenation of interest in women's issues from the March for Women to #MeToo. International Women's Day will drive home that point once again. But we don't need a special day to support women's causes around the world, and there are plenty of charitable organizations from which to choose for our ongoing support.

Here are a few organizations to think about getting behind, but use this list as a jumping-off place as you explore the world of women's causes. Notice that these charities are also highly ranked by outside evaluators, such as CharityNavigator, GiveWell, and various foundations.

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Helen Keller International (HKI) (Health Care)

Helen Keller International photo of children holding up tomatoes
Helen Keller

This organization is very old, dating back to 1915. It specializes in fighting and treating preventable conditions such as blindness and malnutrition.

With programs in 21 African and Asian countries plus the United States. HKI programs combat hunger, cataract, trachoma, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and refractive error. HKI aims to reduce the suffering of people who have little access to health care because of poverty.

Since women and children across the world are more likely to experience extreme poverty and poor health, HKI’s programs concentrate on these particular populations.

HKI has achieved special recognition for its programs in vitamin A supplementation for children and for encouraging local communities to grow yams both for their economic and health benefits.

Rated 4 Stars by Charity Navigator ; recommended by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ; top charity at GiveWell.

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Fistula Foundation (Health Care)

Women helped by the Fistula Foundation
Fistula Foundation

Many people in developed countries have never heard of fistula. That’s because their maternal and obstetric care is excellent.

However, in many parts of the world, women go through prolonged childbirth without adequate care. The result can be a devastating fistula. The condition leaves the woman incontinent, but worse, she can be rejected by society, her family, and even her husband.

Affected women become pariahs, today’s lepers. The Fistula Foundation works to prevent fistula in the first place and provides surgery to correct it.

Between 2009 and 2018, the Fistula Foundation provided 39,866 of these surgeries to women in 32 countries. This life-changing surgery can be provided for less than $600.

4 Star Charity at Charity Navigator; recommended by The Life You Can Save.

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National Women’s Law Center (Women’s Rights)

Screenshot of the main website page for the national women's Law Center
National Women's Law Center

There is not a headline about women’s rights that the National Women’s Law Center doesn’t take seriously. Name the issue, and the NWLC has likely done something about it.

The organization, founded in 1972, primarily works on the rights of working women and low-income women, from pay issues to sexual harassment. The NWLC says on its website, “We champion policies and laws that help women and girls achieve their potential at every stage of their lives—at school, at work, at home, and in retirement.”

If you care about LGBTQ rights, the #MeToo movement, Title IX issues on college campuses, pay equity, or child care, NWLC might be the organization to support.

A four-star charity at Charity Navigator.

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Camfed (Education)

Screenshot of website of Camfed, a children's charity

Camfed, founded in 1993, has been focused on alleviating poverty in Africa by educating girls and turning them into future leaders of their societies.

Camfed works with more than 6,000 schools across Africa to support girls, primarily in poorly served rural areas. Camfed has also trained many alumnae to be advocates of change.

Camfed prides itself on assessing the hurdles that stand in the way of girls going to school, from transportation to school fees to ending child marriage. Camfed works with community members to design and implement educational programs in a sustainable way.

Camfed is a 4-Star Charity at Charity Navigator.

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Dress for Success Worldwide (Social Services)

Home page of Dress for Success International
Dress for Success International

Women’s economic success depends on so many variables. Dress for Success Worldwide tackles a number of these barriers from appropriate clothing to skill development, help in job search and tools for staying relevant in today’s business world.

Dress for Success is now in 25 countries, with 150 offices serving more than a million women since its founding in 1997. 

There are numerous ways to get involved with this inspiring charity, from donating money or professional clothing, to volunteering, to setting up an affiliate in your city.

Dress for Success goes beyond just providing “a suit.” Clothing is essential, but also networking, mentoring, and life skill development all help women achieve their dreams of economic independence.

Dress for Success is a 4-Star Charity at Charity Navigator.

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Kiva (International Development)

Home page for Kiva

Philanthropy is undergoing a rethink. And Kiva has been a leader in that rethinking.

Founded in 2005, Kiva specializes in giving loans to people, who pay those loans back. This is not a traditional charity. It is empowerment. More than one billion dollars have been lent in this way since Kiva started.

Kiva is not just for women, but 81 percent of its beneficiaries are women, often entrepreneurs who found small businesses that help them, their families and their communities.

How does Kiva work? You, the donor/lender, gives as little as $25 (or much more) to help someone somewhere to start a business, pay a bill, or go to school. That person eventually pays back the “loan” so that you, the lender can then lend to another person. It’s not a handout.

The lending model is truly powerful since the borrowers create jobs and economic value in their community. The benefits just keep recurring.

If you want to see a direct effect from your giving, Kiva is one way to participate in this new type of philanthropy.

Kiva is a 4-Star Charity at Charity Navigator.

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Futures Without Violence (Social Services)

Home page for Futures Without Violence
Futures without Violence

A social justice organization, Futures Without Violence, addresses some of the most high-profile issues today. From violence in the workplace to human trafficking, to bullying, to domestic violence, this organization fights on all fronts.

Just a visit to the website gives one data that cannot be ignored on these issues. For instance, one in four women in the US experience abuse by a partner, one in four teens is abused through technology, and 16 to 20 percent of women college students experience sexual assault while in college.

Futures Without Violence can be a one-stop-shop if you care about these issues. The organization collects data, provides resources for all including Congress and the White House, works on awareness campaigns, and reaches out to partners of all kinds in communities.

Futures Without Violence is a 4-Star Charity at Charity Navigator.

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Girls Not Brides USA (Health Care, Social Justice)

Home Page for Girls Not Bides
Girls Not Brides

Child marriage is a huge problem worldwide. It is defined as a formal or informal marriage or arrangement where one or both partners are under 18 years of age. Globally, 12 million girls become child brides each year. Child marriage creates poor health, educational deficits, childbirth deaths, and many cases of domestic violence.

Child marriage is not confined to undeveloped countries either. Even in the US, many states have laws that allow it.

Girls Not Brides brings together some 1300 organizations from 100 countries across the globe to fight this frightening and persistent cause of women’s inequality.

Girls Not Brides provides many ways to donate through crowdfunding sites such as GlobalGiving and Women’s Worldwide Web. You can choose among numerous projects ranging from bikes for girls in Nepal to empowering girls through sports in Afganistan. Whatever project you choose, rest assured that you’ve contributed to ending this hideous practice.

Girls Not Brides enjoys funding from foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation.