Every morning here on UN Dispatch, I post the top stories found in the Development and Aid World News Service–DAWNS Digest. This is a global humanitarian, human rights and development news curation service I founded with the blogger Tom Murphy. Everyday we email our subscribers a quick summary of the most important global news. If you are a global news junkie, you’ll love this service. (And in the outside chance that you don’t, not to fear: we offer a free month trial subscription.) We run DAWNS as a mission-driven social enterprise to support compelling storytelling on issues that are off the radar of the mainstream media. Our revenue supports a grant program for writers, bloggers, photographers, and filmmakers around the world. Most of our grantees are journalists in the developing world who tell local stories of global significance. Since our community of subscribers ultimately funds these grants, we have them help select our grantees. From today until March 7, we are running a competition between 12 finalists for two $1,000 storytelling grants. You read UN Dispatch, which means you are a part of a global community that cares about this kind of journalism and storytelling. Please read through the proposals and select the stories YOU would like to see funded through our grant. Our partners in this contest is Global Citizen, an advocacy group determined to end extreme global poverty. Global Citizen is hosting the voting platform for the contest and is contributing to the grant program. Click over to Global Citizen, create a profile, and vote on your favorite proposal. Here are the 12 finalists: ************ Seema Mathur My project encompasses combating present-day violence against women as well as reconciling and healing from the wounds of conflict in Liberia. Women were systematically raped during Liberia’s 14 years of civil war. Today rape is among the highest crimes in the country. In January I will have the opportunity to shoot and interview four female Nobel Peace Prize winners who are traveling to Liberia. These women will be helping to empower individuals that are seeking solutions to violence against women. Jainaiba Nyang-Njie Poverty in Gambia is said to have a gendered face, with women forming the majority of the poor in both rural and urban households. Data obtained from government sources (SPA II 1998), indicate that 64 percent of those in agriculture are either extremely poor (47 percent), or poor (17 percent). Regina Zoneziwoh ‘know herStory’ is a 3 to 6 month project that will narrate 15 personal and unique stories of grassroots women leaders involved in community mobilization, HIV/AIDs, peace building, social justice, and human rights advocacy. Nosarieme Garrick My Africa Is – an interactive documentary series that identifies innovations on the African continent from the youth. The series will follow unexpected developments in the humanitarian, music, fashion, film, arts, and business sectors of the continent, using each African city as a backdrop to showcase diversity. Arthur Nazaryan ‘Through the Fire’ is a documentary film project that shows a side of Somalia beyond the all-too-familiar news reports of piracy, war, and famine. It gives an intimate portrait of the life and work of three exceptional Somali women, who, in the midst of two decades of bitter civil war, have risen up to rebuild their shattered nation. Shanoor Seervai My project documents the lives of sex workers and their children in Falkland Road, one of the largest red light districts in Mumbai, India. The purpose of the project is to listen to and record the daily challenges these women and children face without sensationalizing or victimizing them. I intend to spend time with them in the brothels where they live and work, talking about the issues that matter most to them. Dean Moull Whilst volunteering in Kenya three years ago I encountered a group of IDPs, Kenyans displaced by the post-election violence of 2007-08. After returning to the UK I wrote a book about the community I had been living with but remained haunted by the stories I heard from the IDPs who’d been forced from their houses, some of whom endured unspeakable violence. David Joseph Weddi Over 5,000 farmers in Doho Rice scheme, Uganda, have spent more than a year waiting to restart cultivating their rice paddies. The construction of a dam over the river that supplies water to these farmers has caused this problem and has had terrible effects on the population. The community has seen a rise in thuggery, theft, robbery and murder as people struggle to survive amidst no harvest. The farmers and their families are greatly suffering and this has negatively impacted local schools. Parents are failing to send their children to class because they lack the money needed to pay the school fees. Sharron Ward In Hindu culture, boys represent a status symbol. Many regard girls as a financial drain because parents face the pressure of providing a dowry to marry them off. The low status of women results not only in the abortion of female fetuses, but also the abandonment of baby girls, the neglect and abuse of women in “dowry deaths,” “honour killings,” and even burning widows to death in a ritual called sati. Jessie Dendere The project I intend to work on is based on water shortages and challenges being experienced by villagers. This story should be told because water is vital and a basic human right. It would be very important to find out how the people in these villages are getting by without water. These areas remain underdeveloped because teachers and nurses refuse to be deployed to them due to the water problems. In addition some schools and health institutions run without water. Kate Lord Eighteen-year-old Maheshwari comes from a family of quarry workers in rural India, none of whom completed schooling past the eighth grade. For the first four years of Maheshwari’s life, it seemed she would follow a similar path: Waking at 5 a.m. to start the household chores, marrying young, bearing children, and bringing in money through odd jobs wherever she could. Instead, she was selected by the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project to attend their boarding school, a brush with fate that would change the trajectory of her entire life. Paolo Patruno “Birth is a dream” is the name of my photography project, which aims to document and raise awareness of the maternity crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. I started documenting the maternal health crisis in Malawi in 2011, and in DRC and Uganda in 2012.