Creating a New Future: Girls and Women’s Education in India and Guatemala

Published October 18, 2022

This World Food Day, World Food Program USA is proud to announce two new grantees for the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education: Go Laadli and MAIA.

Hunger affects women and girls disproportionately: They make up 60% of the world’s hungriest people. This disparity is due almost entirely to unequal access to education, resources, and tools for personal and economic success. The Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education works to change this by empowering women and girls with the knowledge, training, and leadership skills necessary to achieve food security and reach their full potential.

Go Laadli

Go Laadli’s mission is to empower young women to become problem solvers, change makers and leaders. To that end, the organization invests in girls’ education, provides mentoring and leadership opportunities, and catalyzes changes in social attitudes.

Go Laadli recognizes the lack of societal support young women have in India to pursue their dreams and education. While India has the largest population of adolescent girls in the world and has made strides in closing the education gap, gender biases still impact women’s career choices and leadership opportunities. Through programs like its Lead Like a Girl Challenge, Go Laadli creates career pathways for young women, helps them develop leadership skills and provides a space for meeting with mentors.

Given the extraordinary impact its mentoring program has had on their mentees, Go Laadli is keen to make it accessible to more participants. The Catherine Bertini Trust Fund will help them take steps in that direction. With this grant, Go Laadli aims to scale the mentoring program and create a platform based on their successful WhatsApp messaging channel. The new platform will allow them to manage secure automated messaging between mentees and volunteer mentors. The mentees will be able to learn about different colleges and careers as well as access personal development modules through a bite sized curriculum.

When speaking about the grant, Go Laadli Founder Heera Sharma said “Using this generous grant from the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund, we will build the infrastructure to scale our mentoring program and aim to reach hundreds of young women across India. We believe that every young woman should have access to the support she needs to succeed and the resources from this grant will be critical in moving the needle in that direction.”

Manya sharing about the 2022 Go Laadli Campaign in school.Go Laadli – 2021 Challenge Participant with girls club in action.


MAIA is an organization led by Indigenous women for Indigenous women and girls. Launched in 2017, MAIA’s Impact School was Central America’s first school designed specifically to connect Indigenous Mayan girls with opportunities for education. MAIA calls their students “Girl Pioneers” because many are the first in their family to continue their education and break the cycle of generational poverty.

MAIA shares in the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education’s belief that there is nothing more important than ensuring all girls receive an education. All sectors of development improve exponentially when girls have access to education and can actively participate in society. Educated girls make healthier decisions and have higher paying jobs.

The effects of COVID-19 on Girl Pioneers’ education are significant: Young girls are now entering MAIA’S 7th grade with a 2nd grade reading level. To ensure girls are prepared for secondary school, MAIA’s Project Impulso provides year-long academic support in key areas like technology, math, reading and socio-emotional skills. Through the daily program, girls gain the academic momentum to continue their education beyond elementary school and succeed professionally. This grant will support Project Impulso and help girls build that academic foundation.

When speaking about the grant, General Director of MAIA Andrea Coché Mendoza said, “Our partnership with the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund empowers generations of Indigenous women and girls for success in the 21st century through education, socioemotional development, family engagement, and opportunity. Together we are creating a more equitable and just Guatemala and world.”

The Bertini Fund has supported dozens of girl-centered education programs over the years and ensured that thousands of young women could access the schooling they deserve. You can see all of their stories here.


About World Food Program USA | The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

World Food Program USA, a 501(c)3 organization based in Washington, DC, proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme by mobilizing American policymakers, businesses and individuals to advance the global movement to end hunger. Our leadership and support help to bolster an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit

About the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education | After winning the World Food Prize in 2003, Catherine Bertini, the former executive director for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), recognized an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for women’s empowerment. Bertini used her winnings to establish the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education, a fund that supports innovative grassroots initiatives around the globe that boost access to training and educational opportunities for girls.