Making a difference on International Women’s Day

March 9, 2011, 12:58 AM UTC

Today is International Women’s Day–as Google notes by placing a colorful graphic, honoring women, above the search box on its homepage.

If you click on that graphic, you’ll arrive at a page that lists a multitude of ways to help women around the world. Google lists 44 organizations–such as Women for Women International and Vital Voices and Camfed–that deploy your donations to empower women.

Click on the link for Camfed, a not-for-profit that funds women’s education, and you’ll see a video of an amazing young Zambian woman named Penelope Machipi. Orphaned at 12, Penelope had to drop out of school to help raise her siblings. Then, with the help of a Camfed scholarship, Penelope graduated high school. And with the support of Goldman Sachs , she completed the firm’s 10,000 Women program. Today, Penelope manages a technology training center in rural Zambia.

We got to know Penelope because we honored her with the Goldman Sachs-Fortune Global Women Leaders Award at the 2009 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. Penelope has since used her award money to work with other rural women filmmakers to produce a 20-minute documentary called Hidden Truth. The film, which tackles the harrowing subject of domestic violence, is now making its way to film festivals and women’s events from San Francisco to London and back to, Penelope hopes, the Zambian Parliament. She’s lobbying for the passage of laws against domestic violence in her home country.

You can see an excerpt from Hidden Truth here. The film, as well as Penelope’s story, goes to show that empowering one woman can empower many more.