Crusader for Women Worldwide

April 07, 2009

Ritu Sharma has led a life that would appeal to anyone interested in social change. Sharma will be one of our keynote speakers at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, and I cannot wait for all of the attendees to learn from such an amazing activist. She is a first-generation American; her family fled India due to poverty and violence. In 1998, Sharma created Women Thrive Worldwide to bring attention to her family’s legacy and women’s social injustices and to ensure the United States acts in a helpful manner in the world. She has served on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Session on Women. AAUW is proud to have an affiliation with Women Thrive Worldwide and encourages our states and branches to engage in these international issues.

Sharma’s work is inspirational, and it’s remarkable how her organization addresses a variety of social issues from violence against women to women and trade. One of the most interesting issues, I learned about from researching Sharma’s work was the connection between violence against women and poverty.

As shared on the Women Thrive Worldwide website, a study conducted in Nicaragua discovered that children of abused women tended to leave school approximately four years early due to the violence in the family. According to the Royal Tropical Institute, a Dutch think tank, young men who witness violence learn to treat women poorly, and women who have been exposed to violence as children will accept the abuse inflicted upon them later in life. If a woman is abused, it decreases her ability to work and therefore increases the likelihood of poverty. Unfortunately the most vulnerable members of a population continue to suffer these social indignities.

Some of Sharma’s other impressive accomplishments include authoring An Introduction to Advocacy: A Training Guide. An Introduction to Advocacy: A Training Guide is designed to be used as a tool to explain a variety of fundamentals to running a successful advocacy campaign, from fundraising to developing messages. Personally, I am looking forward to learning about Sharma’s views on the current status of women worldwide and possible solutions to ending violence against women. Learn more about her and all the other NCCWSL information at

This post was written by Jennifer McGuire, AAUW-Leadership and Training Institute Fellow.

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