Working women are uniquely positioned to drive economic growth and reduce poverty levels.

Turkey -- where 69 percent of men are employed compared to 29 percent of women, according to the OECD Better Life Index -- is one of many countries that could greatly benefit from raising the employment rate of women. 

Coca-Cola and the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) New World Program have founded a women cooperative of apiculture (beekeeping). The “Queen Bee” project is helping women become business owners and income earners in a community for the first time. A group of 20 women received beehives and training on apiculture techniques and product diversification. Now they are asset owners and entrepreneurs running their own businesses.

This project is one of many projects under New World, which focuses on women's empowerment. After implementing more than 130 community-based projects together in 25 countries between 2007 and 2013, UNDP and Coca-Cola recognized that their Every Drop Matters (EDM) program had the potential for even greater results. Expanding on the success of EDM, in 2014 the partners launched New World. Since 2015, the program reached more than 1 million people through 37 projects in 19 countries.

New World supports projects aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those focused on clean water and sanitation, gender equality, good jobs and economic growth and climate action.

New World aims to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation services and improving water resources management through community based approaches. The program also focuses on empowering women and youth, improving education and generating job opportunities to build resilient communities.

“Together with UNDP, we were able to develop a participatory and impactful partnership model. EDM improved lives of more than 1 million people in Eurasia, including 350,000 who now enjoy better access to water. EDM’s success encouraged us to expand the focus beyond water, to implement projects that will empower women and youth, and promote healthier and more active lifestyles,” explained Susan Mboya, president, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa director for 5by20. “We initiated EDM to contribute to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. New World partnership aligns with all aspects of Coca-Cola’s sustainability strategy and the new global development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Environmental sustainability, particularly water, women and youth empowerment form the three main components of New World's projects. The program is supported by a $4.75 million grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation and an additional $875,000 from Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa Group.

“With the New World Project, we want to help improve opportunities and lives, and hope for an increasing number of communities in an evolving development arena." said Rastislav Vrbensky, regional hub manager, UNDP Istanbul.

New World projects underway include rainwater harvesting systems, development of water access points, graywater household treatment systems, irrigation demonstration sites, improved water storage and wastewater treatment systems, modern farming technique training, improved water access, women empowerment programs, youth leadership skills advancement, and the creation and distribution of awareness raising toolkits.

Mboya notes that 94 percent of the water used by the Coca-Cola system in its finished beverages is replenished back to communities and nature. "EDM played a significant role in preserving water resources and improving access to water and sanitation," she said. "We are confident that the New World partnership will allow us to implement new innovative projects, helping us reach the 100 percent water replenishment target, ahead of our original plans.”

Bhama village farmer

Because of New World, Haji Khalil, a farmer living in Bhama village in Lahore, Pakistan, now uses treated water for crop irrigation.

With a continued partnership focused on safe water access, New World has worked in Lahore, Pakistan to install a water treatment plant for irrigation in the Bhama village. The main goals of the project are to enable access to clean water for the villages and decrease water-related health problems for hundreds of children and infants.

Haji Khalil, a 48-year-old farmer living in Bhama village, cultivates cabbage, spinach, garlic, potato, wheat and rice in this region. Before the project, he used sewer water coming from the village through an open drain as the main source of irrigation.

Khalil explains, ”Whenever I used untreated sewage water for the irrigation of my fields, I felt guilty as I always considered this land to be our mother that feeds us when we are hungry, it gives shelter in the form of a house, it provides space to my elders when they die, and in response, what I am giving back is untreated sewage full of human pathogens.” 

With funds from New World, the Society for Empowerment and Environmental Protection installed a water treatment plant for continuous supply of treated water for irrigation in Bhama village.

“The first day when I opened the inlet of main watercourse to start irrigation of my four-acre fields with treated water there was dramatic change. There was no odor and I felt like my whole world has changed,” said Khalil. 

To date, New World has provided access to improved water and/or sanitation to more than 97,000 people directly while influencing the lives of 112,800 people, and introduced women and youth empowerment activities directly to more than 5,700 people, reaching a total of 1 million people.