1. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

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Millennium Development Goal (MDG) #3 focuses on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women (United Nations, 2014). Unfortunately, progress on each of the MDGs is quite inconsistent, particularly among countries, and regions, and in parts of Africa. Much more that needs to be accomplished. The MDGs conclude this year, with the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) currently being developed to be effective 2015-2030. Themes of the SDGs are inclusion, equity, and participation. It is projected that SDGs will include (a) ending poverty, (b) providing equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all, and (c) attaining gender equality through the empowerment of women and girls everywhere. Specificity of the SDGs should be increased, because outcomes will only be achieved through focused and exemplary grass roots programs GhHeadlines (2015).


The work of Karak Mayik Denyok Miakol, a Sudanese human rights defender and social worker, who has helped over 12,000 women overcome the devastation of poverty and degradation, focusing on refugees and displaced women in South Sudan is a prime example of women making a difference supporting MDGs. Her work comes with great personal and family costs: her five children are in Uganda with extended family. Karak fled her homeland due to serious threats to her safety because of her impassioned commitment to changing life for women and their families. She founded the Women's Rehabilitation Development International Foundation (WRDIF) to empower vulnerable women in South Sudan and Uganda through provision of literacy and business skills, including basic agricultural skills on commercial farms where the women grow and sell produce. There are three phases to the program: renewing women's lives, economic empowerment, and application where women either continue to participate in commercial farming as a cooperative group or are provided with microcredit to begin their own businesses. Knowledge and skills gained can lift women out of poverty, with profound effects on health and well-being of disenfranchised women and their families. Hallmarks of WRDIF are to promote self-sufficiency, empower women, and increase cross-cultural understanding as women in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada have the opportunity to connect with disadvantaged women through a Sisterhood Program ( in which women are paired with women in the West who provide encouragement and support.


A development worker in South Sudan describes Karak as a "real peacemaker," noting that, "Her fight is not the destruction of the traditional way of life; it is to build a positive evolution for women, and by consequences for men and all society. The way she fights is not using, it is to show by living examples that another way is possible. It is to guide the women, to prove to the women that they are to make decisions, able to be active actors in the economy of their to face their difficulties and to build a better life" (Personal communication, Len le Roux, Senior Director, Southern Africa, the Synergos Institute). Because of her courage and commitment, Karak has achieved global recognition, including receipt of an international award. She donated the honorarium to the women of the Nuba Mountains in South Sudan. The award states, "She is an example of how someone, learning from her own refugee situation, can offer strength and a future to fellow women, who are trapped in a hopeless situation. It is evidence of a noble and at the same time a practical mind. With her strength, initiative, and enthusiasm, she is a role model to displaced women and enables them to pick up the thread again and give new meaning to their lives" (Personal communication, Len le Roux). Speaking of her continuing passion for her significant work, Karak said, "The job I do is not easy. South Sudan is not safe but I believe in the power of knowledge, particularly for women and children, as a way to create more peaceful and stable communities." This courageous and committed woman represents what a difference a single individual can make.




GhHeadlines. (2015). From millennium development goals to sustainable development goals. Retrieved from[Context Link]


United Nations. (2014). The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014. New York, NY: Author. [Context Link]