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A Picture is Worth...

When I was walking on the Western Washington University campus near my home in Bellingham the other day, I encountered some interesting sculptures, pictured here. The sculptures belong to a series called “Feats of Strength” by American sculptor Tom Otterness. I found them very evocative, and they made me think a lot about the work our recommended nonprofits do and the communities they serve. 

This sculpture of a woman lifting a heavy stone, for example, brought to mind the extra burdens that women living in extreme poverty face relative to their male counterparts— be it fetching food and water, farming or caring for children. 

While the gender gap is closing in some areas, in others progress seems painfully slow. The negative emotional, health, and economic burdens that women face because of the gender gap have been well-documented. We know, for instance, that

  • Women represent a majority of the global poor: an estimated 21% more women than men will be living in extreme poverty by 2030. (World Bank)

  • Gender-based violence impacts 1 in 3 women worldwide and has only increased during COVID-19.  35 countries have no laws designed to protect women from domestic violence. (World Bank)

  • Women are vastly underrepresented in the global labor market. The global gender gap in labor force participation is above 35%. Only 52.6% of women aged 15-64 are in the labor force, versus 80% of men in the same age range.” (World Economic Forum)

  • Women earn approximately 37% less than their male colleagues in the same position. Their total wage and non-wage income is roughly half that of men. (World Economic Forum)

  • Women do at least twice as much unpaid care work (e.g. childcare and housework) as men — sometimes 10 times as much, often on top of their paid work. Researchers estimate the total value of this unpaid labor to be at least $10.8 trillion per year.  (Oxfam)

  • Gender-based economic inequality costs women in developing countries roughly $9 trillion per year — money that could provide economic security and independence, benefit families and communities and stimulate economies.  (Oxfam)

  • Worldwide, girls aged 5-9 and 10-14 spend 30% and 50% more of their time, respectively, on household chores than boys of the same age.

  • One in every 20 adolescent girls aged 15–19 years — around thirteen million worldwide — have experienced forced sex, one of the most violent forms of sexual abuse women and girls can suffer.

  • In 2015, maternal health conditions – such as haemorrhage, sepsis or obstructed labour – were the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19.

Of course, there are some signs of progress. For instance, we know that  

  • Gender gaps in Educational Attainment and Health and Survival have almost closed globally, with 37 countries already at parity. (World Economic Forum). 

  • The literacy rate for female youth aged 15-24 years has increased from 80 per cent to 90 per cent since 1995. (Unicef)

  • The prevalence of child marriage is decreasing globally —with the most progress in the past decade seen in South Asia, where a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood has dropped by more than a third (from nearly 50% to just below 30%). Still, the total number of girls married in childhood (before 18 years of age) stands at 12 million per year. (Unicef)

  • Between 1995-2020, the proportion of adolescent girls aged 15–19 years whose needs for family planning were satisfied by modern methods rose from 36% to 60%. The adolescent birth rate declined from 60 births per 1,000 girls to 44 births. (Unicef)

  • Support for and practice of female genital mutilation is decreasing, although one in three adolescent girls aged 15–19 years are still cut today across 31 countries with national data on prevalence. (Unicef)

  • Women’s representation in parliaments has more than doubled from 11% in 1995 (although men still hold three-quarters of seats). (UN)

At The Life You Can Save, we recommend several nonprofits with programs focused on women’s health and development. I invite you to review our list of recommended Women’s Charities and learn more about how they are helping women and girls in the communities they serve. Are you interested in increasing your total monthly or annual giving to help these organizations empower women and girls living in extreme poverty?

Donate to Women & Girls Charities


This sculpture depicting several figures lifting a stone together  led me to think of the excellent teamwork that I have encountered at our nonprofit organisations and at The Life You Can Save itself. Village Enterprise also jumped out at me as a nonprofit that uses teamwork to empower entrepreneurs (many of them women). 

Most of all, this series of sculptures depicting “feats of strength” reminded me how lucky I was to have read and been challenged by Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save. Even though I still get wrapped up in pursuing things that impact only me and my small circle of friends and family, I think much more about how to alleviate the unnecessary suffering of those living in poverty than I ever had before reading the book — even now that I am “leaning back” more in life!

Do Good. Feel Good.

Charlie Bresler

Co-founder of The Life You Can Save

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Upcoming Events

Saving More Lives: A Live Virtual Event

Wednesday 23rd June 2021 @ 6pm AEST

We invite you to join The Life You Can Save for an interactive virtual crowdfunding event [don’t worry, there will be no cameras, so pajamas are welcome] and listen to three pioneering organisations share stories about their evidence-based, cost-effective and high impact work. 

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An Evening With Peter Singer
August 2021

In August, Peter will be visiting several cities in Australia to discuss his work on effective altruism, animal rights, and bioethics, as well as exploring concepts around how and why COVID-19 has changed our world.

We are excited to share that the costs of this tour with Peter Singer have now been covered by ticket sales to date. That means 100% of the revenue from future tickets will be donated to The Life You Can Save!

Help support our efforts to alleviate global poverty - buy your ticket to see Peter live in August.
For those of you who can’t make it to one of the in-person events, there’s also a live-streamed option available.

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