Philippine team wins inaugural U.N. “women power” award

SINGAPORE,  (Reuters) – A scheme training Filipino  women to efficiently run neighbourhood 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 towards 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.

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