Bearded dudes pose for merman calendar to raise money for a worthy cause

Behold the “Merb’ys”—a breed of Canadian bearded mermen flapping their fur and fins for a good cause. 

The gentlemen of Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club are posing in nowt but their merman garb for a dudeoir-style calendar to raise money for mental health organisation Spirit Horse NL.

And, the photos certainly don’t disappoint. The calendar—which can be previewed online—features bearded mermen posing in pumpkin patches, pubs, and on various beaches. 

The Merb’ys are thus-named because “the Newfoundland mermen are a different breed,” says Hasan Hai, founder of the beard and moustache club. Hai came up with the idea of a merman calendar after a friend of his posted a photo from a mercreature themed dudeoir shoot on his Facebook wall. 

He decided to organise a calendar, and posted an “open call to the universe” on social media, which received an unexpectedly high response. 70 or 80 people got in touch with Hai, offering to model or photograph. 

Hai knew he wanted to raise money for charity, but hadn’t yet settled on a charity. When he came across Sprit Horse NL and heard the stories of the people they help, he suggested using the calendar to raise money for the organisation. 

“It basically uses horses to provide equine therapy for people with mental illness, people who want to live better lives, people with physical limitation,” Hai told CBC. 

Donning a fin was a challenge for the men during the calendar shoots. “Moving around in a fishtail is not as easy as you would think,” Hai continued, adding that there was “a lot of hopping” and squirming involved behind the scenes.  

The calendar, which has received an overwhelming number of pre-orders, can be purchased online for $25 CAD ($19.70 USD, £14.99) from the Beard and Moustache Club website. 

Major props to the Merb’ys of Newfoundland!

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/10/mermen-dudeoir-calendar-newfoundland/

Bill Gates announces major donation to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s

Bill Gates speaks speaks at the Goalkeepers 2017 event on Sept. 20, 2017, in New York City.
Image: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates just donated a piece of his fortune to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

The philanthropist and Microsoft founder announced in a blog post Monday that he will give $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a public-private partnership that invests in innovative dementia research. Gates will also donate another $50 million in startups working in Alzheimer’s research.

Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has a long track record of supporting research to eradicate diseases like malaria and polio. But Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia that progressively affects memory and other brain functions, is the first noncommunicable disease he’s fighting.

The $100 million is his own investment, not his foundation’s. That’s, in part, because it’s personal. 

“This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s.”

“It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” Gates wrote in his blog post. “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. An estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, and someone new develops the disease every 66 seconds. People of all ages are affected, but 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Gates said he spent the last year learning everything he could about Alzheimer’s disease, speaking with researchers, academics, and other industry experts. Those conversations led him to focus on five areas: understanding how the disease unfolds, figuring out how to detect it earlier, funding more innovative and lesser-known drug trials, making it easier for people to enroll in clinical trials, and using data to inform better approaches.

Gates’ investment in the Dementia Discovery Fund will help support startups as it explores “less mainstream approaches to treating dementia,” he explained.

“The first Alzheimer’s treatments might not come to fruition for another decade or more, and they will be very expensive at first. Once that day comes, our foundation might look at how we can expand access in poor countries,” Gates wrote, explaining how he might look at the issue beyond his personal investment in the future.

The announcement is timely, coinciding with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November. The goal of the month is to increase awareness and drive home the fact that as many as 16 million people could live with Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.

“People should be able to enjoy their later years — and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that,” Gates said. “I’m excited to join the fight and can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/13/bill-gates-alzheimers-disease-donation/

Gay man shares bullying experience in response to politician’s comments about marriage equality

Australia is still in the grips of a debate over marriage equality, and it’s often been a toxic affair.

In September, the country’s National Mental Health Commission issued a statement concerned about the negative impacts brought on LGBTQ people by the continuing marriage equality debate. 

Australian conservative politician Matthew Canavan responded by saying the debate “hasn’t been that bad,” and that marriage equality campaigners should “grow a spine” and “stop being little flowers.”

The unfortunate truth is, LGBTQ people have faced routine discrimination over their entire lives, something a young gay man pointed out to Canavan on television program Q&A Monday night.

“I’m a young gay man who had the misfortune of attending an underprivileged public school,” the  audience member, only known as Gordon, said. 

“I endured slurs on a daily basis, was spat upon by more aggressive bullies and found countless notes stuck in my locker, decrying me as bringing shame to my family or being riddled with AIDS and telling me that I was wasting my life. I was also told that I was threat to children and that being gay was no better than being a paedophile.

“Now you, Mr Canavan, have criticised my community as being delicate little flowers who need to grow a spine in the face of abuse. Isn’t the role of leadership to support society’s most vulnerable, rather than kick them while they’re down in hopes of some political point scoring?”

Canavan responded to the question by saying “little flowers” referred to both sides of the marriage equality debate, and that he is worried about a lack of respect for other people’s opinions in modern democracy.

Yeah, this is a can of worms Australia could’ve done without.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/09/little-flowers-marriage-equality/

Salesforce launches $50 million Impact Fund to invest in social change startups

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, at the annual Salesforce Dreamforce 2013 conference in San Francisco, California.
Image: Kim Kulish / Corbis via Getty Images

Salesforce continues to build a social good movement within the technology sector.

Since it was founded in 1999, the cloud computing giant and its CEO, Marc Benioff, have been trailblazers in redefining “corporate social responsibility,” with philanthropy baked into the company’s DNA.

Now it’s taking that mission even further, using its powerful position in tech and its dedication to social change to fund startups with social impact at their core.

Salesforce announced Tuesday that it’s launching the Salesforce Impact Fund, a $50 million initiative to accelerate the growth of startups that are using Salesforce technology to address some of the world’s biggest problems. Through the fund, Salesforce will invest in these companies, furthering each one’s goal of driving positive change.

“We’re really just excited to launch the Impact Fund … to make the world a better place and a more equal place.”

As part of Salesforce Ventures, the company’s corporate investment group, the Impact Fund will focus on four key areas: workforce development and education, equality, environment, and the social sector.

The first class of startups to receive funding from the Salesforce Impact Fund span these areas of interest.  

In the equality category there’s Ellevest, an investing platform started by Wall Street veteran Sallie Krawcheck that’s designed for women and aims to solve the gender investment gap. For the environment, there’s Angaza Design, a pay-as-you-go tech platform that helps manufacturers and distributors make clean energy devices more affordable for off-the-grid consumers.

In the social sector category is Hustle, which offers peer-to-peer text messaging that enables nonprofits, educational institutions, and advocacy groups to connect with donors and constituents on a scalable basis. And in workforce development there’s Viridis Learning, which uses machine learning to match skill deficiencies in the workforce with local employer needs.

“We’re very excited about all four of these investments,” said John Somorjai, Salesforce’s executive vice president of corporate development and Salesforce Ventures. “Overall, we’re really just excited to launch the Impact Fund … to make the world a better place and a more equal place.”

“Salesforce Ventures is investing in companies that are not only creating innovative solutions, but they’re also improving the state of the world.”

Somorjai explained that Salesforce Ventures, which has grown into the third-largest corporate VC in the world (behind Intel and Google) since it launched in 2009, has about 200 active investments today. Since the beginning of this year, Salesforce  announced two other $50 million funds — one to invest in cloud consulting startups and another to encourage AI startups.

But now the group is trying to bring the company’s overall goal of giving back to its portfolio.

“With the new Impact Fund, Salesforce Ventures is investing in companies that are not only creating innovative solutions, but they’re also improving the state of the world,” Somorjai said. “These are strategic investments that are aligned to our goals around building the world’s No. 1 cloud ecosystem for our customers.”

Suzanne DiBianca, executive vice president of corporate relations and chief philanthropy officer at Salesforce, said the Impact Fund’s first four startups were chosen, in part, because they’re just good businesses. 

“First and foremost, we’re looking for excellent companies — really solid companies, great entrepreneurs, proven track record, great vision, fantastic products,” DiBianca said.

She added that Salesforce has been working with lead partners over the past six months, including Omidyar Network, Kapor Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Emerson Collective. Google Ventures is a co-investor. 

“We’ve been looking to a lot of these lead partners that were investors in earlier rounds to source some of their best companies,” she said.

Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck speaks during the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center in New York  on April 6, 2017.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Impact investing obviously isn’t a new concept in the tech world — Omidyar has been investing in social change startups for years, and Bill Gates even launched a $1 billion clean energy fund with other tech heavyweights in late 2016. 

But DiBianca said she doesn’t know of any other corporate venture arms that have taken such an intentional strategy around impact investing.

“There’s a huge opportunity for us to make a difference here, with our corporate capital, in the for-profit sector,” she said.

And it’s true. Salesforce is uniquely positioned to facilitate real growth and impact in this space, in part because as a company it already has. 

If there’s one tech giant in a good position to raise startups in its own image, it’s Salesforce. 

Benioff’s mission in 1999 was to create a new kind of company that makes philanthropy a core part of its founding tenets. Its integrated 1-1-1 model, in which Salesforce leverages a percent of its tech, people, and resources to give back, has inspired 3,000 other companies to adopt the same model. It’s also led to $170 million in grants, more than 2 million volunteer hours, and 30,000 nonprofits and educational institutions using the Salesforce platform. 

And its own company culture reflects its values. Salesforce has nine employee resource groups, regularly assesses its own equal pay gaps (and spent $6 million to adjust salaries of more than 26,000 employees), and achieved its net-zero carbon emissions goal earlier this year.

Salesforce was also one of the first companies to stand against discriminatory legislation targeting queer and trans communities in Indiana, Georgia, and North Carolina. It proved that social justice is no longer off limits in business and corporate social responsibility efforts, and pushed other corporations to do the same.

If there’s one tech giant in a good position to raise startups in its own image, it’s Salesforce. 

“It’s really designed to support a whole new generation of companies focused on driving positive social change through technology,” DiBianca said of the new Impact Fund.

The Salesforce Impact Fund will work like the current venture program. As deals happen, and as rounds of funding come together, Salesforce Ventures will be evaluating them. That means it will invest in startups on a rolling basis. The goal is to fully deploy the $50 million from the fund within the next two years.

“There is good news coming out of the venture community these days, and [it’s] happening through action, not through words,” DiBianca said.

“But more importantly, there’s just a lot of great entrepreneurs out there, and we’re really excited to get to know them, to meet them, and to help power their business ideas on the Salesforce platform and within our ecosystem.”

UPDATE: Oct. 4, 2017, 5:22 p.m. ET Salesforce has clarified that Google Ventures is a co-investor for the Salesforce Impact Fund, not a partner. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/03/salesforce-impact-fund-social-good-startups/

Coca-Cola coffee is a thing now and we really need to talk about your caffeine addiction

Image: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Much like Donald Trump, the Trump administration seemed to be made of a cutting-edge, space-age substance to which nothing could stick. Teflon Don didn’t even start to capture it. 

Then, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was caught taking chartered flights on taxpayer money. The scandal peaked on Friday afternoon when Price unceremoniously resigned.

Of all the scandals that have erupted around Trump—and there have been plenty—Price’s is among the most mundane. Government officials are routinely enjoying the perks of their position and occasionally having to answer for it. The notion that a relatively minor part of the Trump administration did this would seem to be par for the Trump-branded course.

And yet, with issues like the disaster in Puerto Rico, escalating tensions with North Korea, and a major cultural moment in the NFL, the Price fiasco has shown remarkable staying power. 

There’s just something about it. There might not be a better example of fat cat/Washington D.C. swamp-monster activity than taking chartered flights. 

This speaks to what flying has become in U.S. culture. Plane travel is accessible to the majority of Americans, a shared experience we all know and understand. It’s also a nonstop reminder of the haves and have nots. On the low end, flying is a stressful exercise. It’s waiting in line with your fellow plebes, herded into waiting areas, and scanned thoroughly. Don’t even think about having a bottle of water. 

Meanwhile, we all know what the rich folks get to do. They either breeze through security or skip it altogether. They take private jets and sip champagne and eat some really expensive shellfish we probably haven’t even heard of. For them, travel isn’t stressful; it’s just another chance to enjoy the finer things in life.

The use of private jets in particular has become a hot topic since the financial crisis, when the lavish spending of CEOs became an example of the decadence enjoyed by executives whose companies had cratered. Since then, the air travel experience has only gotten worse, making the luxury of high-end flights seem all the more extravagant.

Trump has long been associated with exactly this kind of thing—both extravagance and private air travel. His airplanes—unmistakably emblazoned with “TRUMP”—became something of a signature, especially during his presidential campaign. Trump might be the poster child of private air travel. 

He also has portrayed himself as the poster child of the “drain the swamp” mentality. Trump was supposed to come to Washington, D.C. and clean house. Trump was supposed to look out for the little guy, the taxpayer, the guy who had been taken advantage of by D.C. bureaucrats. If anything symbolized the exact opposite of Trump’s spin, it was expensive and unnecessary private flights.

Of course, Trump himself has shown little shyness in racking up air miles on the taxpayer dime, with near-constant trips to his Mar-a-lago estate in Florida. There’s also been other stories about people in his administration living lavishly—particularly when the wife of Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin went off on Instagram over critical comments on a photo of her exiting a U.S. government aircraft posted with  hashtags featuring luxury brands.

These are the kinds of bad optics that can wear on a presidency and help create a narrative. Price’s own decisions eventually brought him down, but not without a build up that included some unforced errors from others in the Trump administration—and a healthy public interest in just how bad air travel is for the rest of us.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/29/tom-price-resigns-air-travel-scandal/

Rihanna’s third-annual Diamond Ball was a celebrity-filled spectacle and so much more

Image: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Clara Lionel Foundation

It was a wonderful night.

Jay-Z mingled with fellow tuxedo-clad guests. Beyoncé delicately dabbed her face with the finest of cloth napkins. Leonardo DiCaprio looked off in the distance as someone conversed with him. Kendrick Lamar handed me a microphone (yes, you read that right) and Cardi B’s four assistants gathered her dress to help the “Bodak Yellow” queen make her way through the ballroom full of tables at Rihanna’s third annual Diamond Ball.

In the middle of it all sat a 29-year-old Barbados born woman who needs no introduction, especially following the week she’s had launching an impressively successful (and inclusive) makeup launch and showing her Fenty Puma Spring 2018 collection during New York Fashion Week. 

With all that is going on in her life, it’s easy to forget that the Robyn Rihanna Fenty does more than set trends, release party anthems and design coveted sneakers. 

But she does—and Thursday night in New York City proved that she does it well. Despite the distracting shoulder rubbing that occurred throughout the slow evening, the ball was dedicated towards celebrating and raising funds for the extensive work of her Clara Lionel Foundation, an organization Rihanna created in 2012 and named in honor of her grandparents. 

The foundation focuses on a bevy of issues regarding education, emergency response, and health around the globe, aiming to improve “quality of life for young people everywhere.” Over the past five years, the small but mighty foundation has accomplished that through micro grant programs to financially support schools in Barbados, and contributed necessary equipment to improve cancer screenings on the island. 

This year, CLF has gone global. In addition to taking meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron, CLF has partnered with international bike sharing company ofo, bringing bikes to aid accessibility to education for young girls in Malawi—where Rihanna herself visited the country as an ambassador for Global Partnership for Education, Global Citizen, and CLF. 

All future initiatives proved to become a reality thanks to the the ball’s host, Dave Chappelle, who bought a $180,000 Retna painting during the auction portion of the evening and the many more that stepped up to the plate to raise over $5 million for CLF to continue its work. The controversial comedian, who described the ball’s ambiance as an orgy he once went to, had the audience simultaneously gasping and guffawing at his remarks about touchy subjects that he handled with the grace you can come to expect from Chappelle—R. Kelly, Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump included. 

“This is Jenga, and that motherfucker is pulling all the middle blocks,” Chappelle said about the president.

The 44th president made an appearance as well. Barack Obama went out of his way to deliver a video message of support to Rihanna, praising her philanthropy efforts and offering up VIP tickets for an opportunity to join him and Michelle at the Obama Foundation Fall Summit in Chicago. The tickets, which came with Chapelle’s pocket square, sold for $275,000. 

The event also honored Angeline Murimirwa with the 2017 Diamond Ball Award, recognizing the Camfed Regional Executive Director for her extensive work towards improving education in Zimbabwe, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, and Malawi. 

Lamar and Calvin Harris (both previous collaborators with Rihanna) performed at the end of the night, eliciting dance moves from musicians, designers, models, and actors and providing a rare opportunity to let loose, all for the kids. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/15/rihanna-diamond-ball-recap/

Forever 21 called out for ripping off a shirt sold to benefit Planned Parenthood

We’ve got another case of Forever 21 graphic tee outrage on our hands. 

This week shoppers noticed that the retailer’s “The Woman” T-shirt bears an extremely similar design to a different tee created by the L.A.-based PR agency WORD to benefit Planned Parenthood. 

The agency posted a side-by-side comparison of the shirts on Instagram, noting the absence of the Swahili, Arabic, Hebrew, and Japanese versions of the word “woman” on Forever 21’s tee. 

Angela Carrasco and Zoila Darton, the founders and partners of WORD, told Jezebel that they were “confused” when they found out about the controversy on Thursday. 

They began selling the shirt online in late July. On its site, WORD explains that the shirt is its contribution toward the fight for better women’s healthcare in the U.S. and abroad and that it represents the agency’s belief that feminism and human rights should be intersectional. WORD donates twenty five percent of the proceeds from sales of the shirt to Planned Parenthood. 

“Maybe they want to capitalize off of feminism,” Darton said. “But feminism is not new to me, it’s something that I really believe, so to see it being co-opted this way is shocking.”

Forever 21 faced even more harsh criticism from social media users.

Carrasco and Darton said that they were most upset by the fact that the sales of the Forever 21 shirt are only benefiting the retailer instead of the women’s health organization. They’re considering looking into legal options and have urged the story to donate any proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

Forever 21’s “The Woman” shirt still appeared in searches on the brand’s website as of time of writing. However, when we clicked on the shirt, we were directed back to the search page instead of to the product’s individual retail page.

Mashable has reached out to Forever 21 to ask if customers can still purchase the shirt and if they have a response to the controversy. 

UPDATE Sept. 16 7:49 a.m. PT: Forever 21 provided a statement regarding the shirt:

“The shirt in question was bought from a third party source.  As soon as Forever 21 was alerted to the issue, we respectfully removed it from our website. Because this product did not have trademark or IP protections, there were no red flags raised at the time of purchase.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/15/forever-21-planned-parenthood-shirt/

Serena Williams, Viola Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross and more want you to know about the wage gap for black women

It’s the last day of July which means, thanks to a pesky thing called inequality, that black women are only now catching up to their male counterparts earnings from 2016.

That’s rightaccording to the Economic Policy Institute, it takes seven months of additional work “in order to be paid the same wages as her white male counterpart was paid last year.”

Because of this, July 31 is Black Womens Equal Pay Day. Serena Williams is one of the many drawing attention to the dramatic wage gap. The tennis legend shared posts on social media and penned an essay for Fortune where she explained her thoughts on what it would take for the pay gap to close once and for all.

“July 31 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which represents the number of days into 2017 a black woman must work to earn the same pay a white man made in 2016 that’s nearly eight extra months!,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “Black women are the cornerstone of our communities, they are phenomenal, and they deserve equal pay.”

“Growing up, I was told I couldnt accomplish my dreams because I was a woman and, more so, because of the color of my skin. In every stage of my life, Ive had to learn to stand up for myself and speak out. I have been treated unfairly, Ive been disrespected by my male colleagues andin the most painful timesIve been the subject of racist remarks on and off the tennis court,” she wrote in Fortune.

“But today isnt about me,” she later explained in the essay. “Its about the other 24 million black women in America. If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them; that is never lost on me. The cycles of poverty, discrimination, and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles.”

In the essay, she calls upon men and women of every background to dedicate time to shift the inequality through “dedicated action, legislation, employer recognition” and courage,” before sharing information from SurveyMonkey, where she is a new board member.

A post shared by Gabby Sidibe (@gabby3shabby) on

Actresses Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis, Yara Shahidi, and Gabby Sidibe shared the same messages as Williams, also donning identical ‘phenomenal women’ shirts.

Addressing the pay gap by gender and race sheds an even brighter light on the systematic inequalities facing black women today. Studies have shown that black and hispanic women are impacted the most when it comes to getting paid less than their white counterparts.

To learn more about the gender pay gap and dispel common misconceptions, visit EPI’s website here.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/31/serena-williams-black-women-equal-pay-day/

Trump was greeted by ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ protestors in Poland

Handmaids greeted Trump during his visit to Poland.
Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

President Trump and the GOP can’t seem to escape Handmaid’s Tale protestors not even halfway around the globe.

During his visit to Warsaw, Poland to meet with world leaders ahead of the G20 summit, Trump was met by a group of vocal protestors in long red robes and white hoods, a nod to Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel.

The Polish Handmaids met in Krasinskich Square, where some of Trump’s supporters had gathered to greet him.

They were joined by a large group of plain-clothed protestors, with signs saying “Dumb Trump,” and “Trump Precz” which roughly translates to “Trump Not Welcome!”

If that was not enough, Trump was also greeted with a special welcome on a Warsaw building, in reference to his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement:

This is not the first time Trump (and other Republican legislators) have been met with this form of protest from the resistance.

The Handmaids have become a common sight over the past few months, protesting everywhere from Ohio to the Capitol.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/06/handmaids-tale-protest-poland/

This new hotline in rural Kenya helps protect girls from violence

Drought in a developing country can mean many things: a lack of water, a lack of food and nutrition, and a lack of economic growth that puts even more pressure on impoverished communities relying on farming for their livelihoods.

For women and girls, it also means a lack of protection. In Africa, women do 90% of the work of gathering water and wood. During a drought, they have to walk even longer distances to find potable water for themselves and their families. That makes them more susceptible to violence and attacks from men in remote areas which often go unreported.

But a new initiative in rural northern Kenya turns to technology and members of the community to make the region safer, and put an end to gender-based violence.

The Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) program has launched a new hotline and “gender-support desk” in Wajir, northeastern Kenya. According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, community members, police officers, health workers, and more have all joined forces to offer a toll-free number for girls who have been attacked, with the goal of bringing the predators to justice.

“We will continue working on this until Wajir County will be free of gender-based violence.”

“In my community, if a girl is raped, we will give you an animal and that’s the end of the story,” Sophie, the “oldest activist in Wajir,” says in the video above.

The hotline initiative, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and led by humanitarian organization Mercy Corps, aims to change that.

When a girl calls the number, facilitators alert police officers and health workers who not only investigate the situation, but also provides the survivor with “moral and medical support.” Once allegations are confirmed, the gender desk will help her bring the case to court.

Meanwhile, men who want to make a difference in the community dubbed “gender champions” are encouraged to speak out on local radio shows to denounce violence against women and promote gender equality.

While effective in its approach (and its specificity), this isn’t exactly the first hotline of its kind in rural Kenya to help girls. In 2014, for example, the Kenyan government launched a hotline to curb female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.

Approximately 45 percent of women in Kenya between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced physical or sexual violence, according to USAID. In Wajir, there have already been 10 reported cases of rape this year. The severe drought, currently affecting 17 African countries for more than two years, has worsened the problem in northern Kenya, where there’s more rainfall than the rest of the country. People often engage in conflict over land and water, some of whom use violence against women as a way to send a message.

With the prevalence of mobile throughout the country, using a hotline to tackle the issue is a smart and impactful move.

“We will continue working on this until Wajir County will be free of gender-based violence, free from violation of human rights,” Sophie says.

You can read more about the initiative and its impact here.

[H/T Thomson Reuters Foundation]

WATCH: Ethiopian villagers talk about what water means to them

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/23/kenya-hotline-women-girls-violence/