Philippine team wins inaugural U.N. "women power" award

Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:33am EDT
 
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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A scheme training Filipino women to efficiently run neighborhood stores grabbed top prize at an global U.N.-sponsored contest aimed at empowering impoverished women in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

"Project Inspire" was launched in March to commemorate the centennial of International Women's Day.

Contestants, who were judged by economists and academics, had to come up with projects that would better the lives of women and girls in regions where females are often neglected.

The "Hapinoy Program" project, which aims to support 1,000 female owners of "sari-sari" convenience stores in Luzon, won the top prize of $25,000, which will go toward training store owners in business development, management and pricing goods.

A special grant of $10,000 was awarded to a team from Thailand for literacy training to women migrants from Myanmar who live in landfills at the border.

Another $10,000 also went to a team from India whose program aims to benefit abused women from Pingla in the country's east, where women traditionally earn a living by singing and painting.

The winners were selected from 10 finalists chosen from 450 youth-driven teams worldwide who had to pitch their ideas in a five-minute video or in a written proposal. Project Inspire is a joint initiative by U.N. Women in Singapore and MasterCard.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies, editing by Miral Fahmy)