WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An article in the latest Harvard International Review by WomenStrong Executive Director Dr. Susan M. Blaustein explains the genesis of WomenStrong International, a consortium of non-profit organizations in five nations supporting women-driven solutions to extreme urban poverty. The article provides an historic context for the importance of women and girls in global development, and explains why they are such central players in realizing the 2030 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. An outgrowth of the Millennium Cities Initiative at Columbia University's Earth Institute, WomenStrong was built on a decade of work during which, Blaustein notes, "we observed that women and girls on the ground had led our most effective programs in the Millennium Cities. "Whether through the vehicles of savings groups, community cleanup crews, or Girls' Clubs, the girls and women clearly valued the chance to succeed, to lead, to form common bonds, and to broaden their range of future opportunities," she writes. "To continue this work, and as a further proof-of-concept, we resolved to create an organization explicitly for the purpose of enabling women-driven development, to see how far severely under-resourced neighborhoods might get with women devising the agenda and leading the way." Now in its second year, the unusual consortium model of WomenStrong has successfully brought together determined non-profits working with impoverished girls and women in cities across five countries. Two of these — Kisumu, Kenya, and Kumasi, Ghana — have built upon the work accomplished under the Millennium Cities Initiative. Together with WomenStrong's three new venues in Madurai, India, Borgne, Haiti, and Washington, DC, the projects share and adapt useful tools, resources, program ideas, and lessons learned from hard-won experience. The members brainstorm solutions to the many common challenges they face, finding inspiration and successful tactics in work being done thousands of miles away. The article "One Path Toward Effective Global Development: Learning from Those with the Most at Stake" can be found at http://hir.harvard.edu/one-path-toward-effective-global-development-learning-stake/ The Harvard International Review is a quarterly journal and website of international relations published by the Harvard International Relations Council at Harvard University. The journal offers commentary on global developments in politics, economics, business, science, technology, and culture, as well as interviews with prominent global leaders and reviews of books and documentaries. The publications aims to feature "underappreciated topics in the international affairs discourse and underappreciated perspectives on more widely discussed topics." ABOUT WOMENSTRONG INTERNATIONAL WomenStrong International is a consortium of non-profit organizations in five nations supporting women-driven solutions to extreme urban poverty. WomenStrong emerged from a decade of work at Columbia University's Millennium Cities Initiative, where we found that the most successful programs were local and led by women. Through our Consortium members in Ghana, Kenya, Haiti, India, and Washington, D.C., we help thousands of women and girls meet their 6 Essential Needs for health, shelter, safety, education, economic empowerment and a functioning urban environment. These women, in turn, improve the lives of their children, families, communities and nations. WSI believes the path out of poverty and toward a more just and prosperous world can be found by making women strong. For more information, visit www.womenstrong.org.