Investing in women & girls has immense potential for positive social change – not just for them, but also for their families and communities. Yet, women around the world experience worse outcomes and have limited opportunities compared to men in many areas of life. Improving women’s lives is therefore both a matter of social justice and smart investment for broad social impact. Here are five high impact opportunities for donors to support women and girls, both in the U.S. and around the world.

1. Invest in the health of newborns and mothers abroad 

The Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) has pioneered a cost-effective and innovative Home-Based Newborn Care (HBNC) program that has been serving vulnerable rural communities in India for over 30 years. SEARCH trains rural women as village health workers to educate women in their communities, and provide basic care to mothers and their children before, during, and after birth. SEARCH’s HBNC program has been shown to decrease newborn deaths by 70% and maternal deaths by 49% in villages where it is implemented. Read more here.

2. Support counseling services for low-income, first time mothers in the U.S.

Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) implements the proven home visitation model to increase access to services for mothers and children in under resourced communities. Low income mothers pregnant with their first child are matched with a registered nurse that visits them starting from pregnancy through the child’s second birthday. The nurses provide counseling and care related to healthy practices, childcare, family planning, and employment. Based on a 2015 review, Dr. T.R. Miller of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation estimates that for every $1 spent on the program, society receives $6.40 of net benefits from increased tax revenues and reductions in social costs. Read more here.

3. Help women in extreme poverty achieve social and economic empowerment abroad

Fonkoze’s Chemen Lavi Mayó (CLM) is one of many groups applying the graduation model of economic stability to help Haitian women in extreme poverty build skills and greater confidence. The program provides each member with the materials to construct a small home with a sturdy roof and a latrine; a water filter; and her choice of two activities to begin earning an income, including raising various types of livestock or selling merchandise. Over 3,500 women have “graduated” from CLM’s program since 2006, moving both themselves and their families from ultrapoverty to increased economic security. Read more here.

4. Subsidize addiction treatment programs that serve both women and their children

Meta House, a treatment center based in Wisconsin, seeks to assist women recovering from substance use disorders by providing residential treatment programs and comprehensive services for both mothers and their children. By housing children onsite, and providing both parenting education as well as youth-related services, Meta House ensures women stay in treatment as long as they need. With its family-focused approach to recovery, it has seen more than double the national average for treatment retention for clients who stay past the first two weeks of treatment. Three months of specialized treatment for a mother, newborn and additional young child can be subsidized for only $6,750. Read more here.

5. Help train women in rural regions to provide crucial health services to their communities

Curamericas Guatemala provides health services to a remote indigenous community in Guatemala that has some of the worst health outcomes in Latin America. Curamericas trains local women to teach other mothers in their community about life-saving health practices. It also operates three birthing centers, known as Casas Maternas Rurales, staffed by trained nurses who work with indigenous midwives who are respected in the community and who help Curamericas staff gain and maintain the trust of local women. In the past three years, the partner communities with the Casas have not had any maternal deaths, in a region with some of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Read more here.

For more guidance on how you can improve the lives of women and girls, see our comprehensive framework, The XX Factor and read more about the 10 Best Bets for Funders.