May 10, 2022 – Last month, as our team in South Africa initiated steps to enroll underprivileged women from the Flats area of Cape Town to train them and support their dream of creating a business, we are proud to announce the launch of the partnership recently created among WPDI and the L’Oréal Fund for Women. With L’Oréal working to empower women and support marginalized people, this new collaboration highlights the strategic turn of WPDI to prioritize women along with youth. After years empowering young people in violence-affected and fragile communities and having observed, program after program, the extent of women’s needs and potential, we decided to elevate women’s empowerment as a top priority in our action.

The new partnership will be key to materialize this strategic turn, starting with the above-described program in South Africa and another one in Uganda. Through the Cape Town program, we will support 700 women, providing them trainings in entrepreneurship and subsequently compete in a business plan competition that will lead to the development of 42 businesses. The support of the L’Oréal Fund for Women will help us respond to the needs of women in one of the most challenged territories of South Africa. In Uganda, their contribution will strengthen the entrepreneurship program for underprivileged women that we launched at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in 2019 and through which we have already supported 57 cooperative businesses developed by groups of 15 women – over 850 in total. 285 women will participate in the program with 19 new businesses to be created over the year. In addition, this new partnership will reinforce our scholarship programs for refugee girls. This will be another key opportunity as, too often, families with meager resources will opt to send boys to school rather than girls, whom they will employ at home for domestic chores. In this context, the 150 scholarships that will be given this year have the potential to dramatically transform the fates of as many girls and their communities.

Considering these promising prospects, Forest Whitaker, our CEO/Founder, declared that “Joining forces with L’Oréal will help WPDI make a significant difference in the lives of thousands of women affected by conflict and vulnerability.” On her part, Alexandra Palt, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer and CEO of the Fondation L’Oréal, stated that “We are convinced that the collaboration with WPDI will lead to a greater impact to support female refugee and underprivileged women who are, in Africa and in other countries, particularly affected by inequalities and violence”.

About The Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative

WPDI is a non-governmental organization with an international scope and reach, founded by artist and social activist and UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace, Forest Whitaker, in 2012. In the places in which we work, WPDI has developed an array of peacebuilding programs, initiatives, and campaigns to foster peace and reconciliation in fragile communities in Africa, Latin America, and the United States. Through so doing, WPDI seeks to bring good men and women together and empower them to become leaders for peace and positive transformation in the communities and countries.

About The L’Oréal Fund for Women

L’Oréal, historically committed to supporting women, launched in 2020 the L’Oréal Fund for Women, a three-year charitable endowment fund of 50 million euros to support grassroots associations and organizations in their efforts to help women to get out of poverty and prevent domestic/sexual violence against women and support survivors.

Particular attention is paid to projects aiming at helping women with multiple vulnerabilities, especially refugee women and women with disabilities.

Beyond emergency aid, the L’Oréal Fund for Women focuses on supporting women and girls’ empowerment, particularly by supporting projects in favor of social and professional integration and overcoming obstacles to access to education.

Discover more about WPDI