“Partnerships are critical to success.” 


Last month I had the chance to visit UNICEF House in New York. As you likely know, Rotary has a long-standing relationship with UNICEF based on our more than 30-year partnership to eradicate polio.  And, as we honor that long-standing commitment, we also recognize many factors, many diseases, many challenges affect children today - particularly girls. Rotary Day at UNICEF brought together our partnership as well as our synergies in our collective work to empower girls.
Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta has made Empowering Girls a critical overarching priority this Rotary year.  He has asked each of us to launch initiatives aimed to lead the charge for gender equality.  Bringing greater access to education, better health care and more employment. Empowerment allows each girl to reach their full potential creating hope and setting the stage for sustainable peace.
The reality today is that while significant progress has been made in the last decade to advance girl’s education, health and status in their community girls and young women are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, which has exacerbated in-equities and reinforced gender inequalities.
Adolescent girls face higher risks of violence, child marriage, and dropping out of school. Even after schools reopen this will remain true due to underlying discriminatory gender norms.
At UNICEF house we heard incredible stories of champions leading the way to ending child marriage, providing mentorship to girls, breaking barriers for girls on menstrual hygiene management, and the influence of technology on basic education and literacy.
Partnerships are critical to success.  In this case, UNICEF has the technical expertise and Rotary’s strength is our global network of 1.4 million community-based volunteers around the world.  Thank you, President Shekhar, the Empowering Girls Ambassadors, and all the champions around the world. Together we can be the catalysts for creating solutions to empower girls, setting them up for healthy, hopeful, and thriving futures.
Girls pay a much higher price during a crisis. War disproportionally effects women and girls. More than half of Ukraine’s children have crossed borders into Poland and other countries, becoming instant refugees as a result. Their lives completely shattered, separated from their families, friends, schools and everything they know and cherish, along with the uncertainty of what awaits them in the future. In fact, one child becomes a refugee every second of every minute of every hour and day. 
Rotarians can make a difference and I want to thank you for your incredible generosity and kindness. More than $3.7 million dollars and nearly $1.9 million in district designated funds have been donated to the Rotary Foundation Disaster Response Fund and many districts and clubs are offering matching funds to encourage support to Ukraine such Rotary Club of Hamilton in D7090 featured in this newsletter. 
Let’s continue to keep our Ukrainian family in our thoughts and prayers – Be well and Be Safe.
Yours In Rotary,
Valarie Wafer
Rotary International Vice President (2021-2022)
Rotary International Director (2020-22)
Rotary Club of Collingwood, South Georgian Bay