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Bollywood Star Juhi Chawla and Join My Village partners MSD India and General Mills encourage consumers to get involved and help donate up to US$1.5 million in 2012

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 7:45am
The Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb 28, 2012-- Join My Village, an innovative social change initiative created by General Mills to support CARE, a leading global humanitarian organization, is expanding to India. Join My Village gives girls and women from disadvantaged communities in the Global South increased access to education and support, providing a gateway to better opportunities, outcomes and lives. Educated girls grow into educated women, have healthier babies, educate their children and are better prepared to help build stronger communities.

Since Join My Village was launched in Malawi in 2009, it has supplied more than US$1.4 million to help more than 2,000 families. Last year alone, Join My Village donated US$900,000 to fund CARE programs for girls' education and economic empowerment in the southeast African nation, one of the poorest in the world.

The success of the program in Malawi inspired CARE, with the support of corporate partners General Mills and MSD India (wholly owned subsidiaries of Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., USA), to expand Join My Village to India. Girls and women in India face steep odds. UNICEF has found that more than 40 percent of the world's child marriages occur in India1. According to the UN, about 40 percent of Indian girls under 14 do not attend school2 and less than half of adult females are literate3. Access to education and maternal health resources are key to improving these situations for women and girls in India.

"Join My Village will be a potent tool to bring women and girls from poor and marginalized communities to the center stage and equip them with the right tools and opportunities," said Dr. Muhammad Musa, CARE India CEO and country director. "This will enable them to take control of their lives, which is imperative in the fight against poverty." Join My Village is an innovative click-to-commit social change initiative that gives individuals the power to unlock charitable donations from companies like General Mills and MSD to women and girls in Malawi, and now India, through CARE. Every "Like" on the Join My Village Facebook page will trigger a $1 donation from General Mills and The Merck Company Foundation to CARE's programs supporting women and girls in India and Malawi. Together, the companies will donate a total of US$1.5 million to CARE by the end of 2012.

Bollywood star Juhi Chawla joined General Mills, MSD and CARE at the India launch of Join My Village to encourage her fans to help unlock US$50,000 in funds for the program. "When you face a large problem such as this, it can be difficult to see how one person can have a real impact. That's why I'm excited to be part of Join My Village, a unique program that gives all of us the power to help change the lives of women and girls in India," Chawla said. "By simply liking the Join My Village Facebook page, reading about CARE's programs in India, and sharing the stories with friends, we can work together to help make India better by opening opportunities for our country's women and girls." In India, these funds will help build on current successful CARE India programs by enhancing CARE bridge programs that promote learning at government-run KGBV boarding schools. Additionally, donations will help to provide training, education and support for maternal and infant health to pregnant women in Uttar Pradesh and to expand CARE's accelerated learning school program, Udaan, which has operated in Uttar Pradesh for 11 years, into Haryana. In Malawi, Join My Village will continue to help build housing in villages for female teachers, provide scholarships that send girls to secondary school and fund microfinance tools that help women launch their own businesses.

"We believe that women everywhere are a powerful force for change," said Ken Powell, General Mills chairman and CEO. "Join My Village offers a unique model for fighting global poverty. It channels the power of online communities to help women and girls in Malawi - and now India - create a better future for themselves, their families, communities and eventually the world by giving them an opportunity to succeed." In conjunction with the Join My Village announcement, MSD India hosted a panel discussion on "Opportunities for Building New Partnerships to Invest in Women and Girls in India" to highlight innovative approaches to the challenges faced by women and girls in India. "As we offer individuals the chance to help effect change through Join My Village, we hope to shed light on how reducing poverty and improving health are inextricably linked to better education," said K.G. Ananthakrishnan, MSD India managing director. "Through Join My Village, girls in India will gain more access to improved education and learn how to take better care of themselves and their babies during and after pregnancy, two steps that can improve life for girls and women throughout the country." To learn more about Join My Village, visit www.facebook.com/joinmyvillage. The program will provide up to US$1.5 million in 2012 for CARE programs focused on women and girls in Malawi and India.

About Join My Village Founded in 2009, Join My Village is a click-to-connect social change initiative that gives you the power to inspire charitable donations from companies like General Mills and MSD to impoverished women and girls through CARE. Join My Village gives you different opportunities to help girls participate in their lives by clicking, texting, or viewing content. Every click helps companies donate more dollars to the girls in India and Malawi. We truly believe that if we all click, we all become more aware, and we all become a part of the solution to help end poverty around the world. Our mission is to fight global poverty by helping to provide women and girls the tools and opportunities they need to make lasting changes for themselves, their families and their communities. To get involved, visit www.joinmyvillage.com.

About CARE Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Our six decades of experience show that when you empower a girl or woman, she becomes a catalyst, creating ripples of positive change that lift up everyone around her. That's why girls and women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity for everyone. We also work with girls and women to promote social justice, respond to emergencies and confront hunger and climate change. Last year CARE worked in 84 countries and reached 122 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care.org.

In India, CARE's relief and development program addresses the needs and interests of millions of disadvantaged women and girls. We provide improved access to health, education and sustainable livelihoods in fifteen Indian states. To learn more about CARE's work in India, visit www.careindia.org About Merck/MSD Today's MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Whitehouse Station, N.J., U.S.A. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships.

The Merck Company Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., USA, the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is its chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable organizations. Since its inception, The Merck Company Foundation has contributed more than $600 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with the company's overall mission to help the world be well.

MSD operates its human health business in India through three separate legal entities: MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., Organon (India) Private Ltd., and Fulford India Limited, which are subsidiaries of Merck & Co.

Inc. USA. Since its existence in India, the company has moved quickly in laying the foundation for a business that is differentiated by its focus through launching innovative products relevant to India. MSD in India currently operates in various therapeutic areas in human health, including Metabolics, Cardiovascular, Vaccines, Critical Care, Immunology, Virology, Oncology, Women's Health, Dermatology, Respiratory, Virology, Musculoskeletal and Primary Care, and offers a strong and diversified product portfolio of over 75 brands in total.

For more information on MSD India, visit www.msdindia.in. For more information on The Merck Company Foundation, visit www.merckcompanyfoundation.org.

About General Mills One of the world's leading food companies, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Yoplait, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2011 global net sales of US$14.9 billion. To learn more about the General Mills Foundation, visit www.generalmills.com/Responsibility.

1 http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-02-10/india/31045526_1_child-brides-child-marriage-minimum-age 2 http://www.un.org/works/goingon/india/girlseducation.html 3 "State of the World's Children", 5/8 2000 (UNICEF) http://www.care.org/careswork/countryprofiles/63.asp Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid50185355&langen CONTACT: For Join My Village Tom Sullivan, 704-222-5488 tom@sandallmarketing.com KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA MINNESOTA INDUSTRY KEYWORD: WOMEN EDUCATION PRIMARY/SECONDARY OTHER EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY CHILDREN PARENTING RETAIL COMMUNICATIONS ADVERTISING MARKETING FOOD/BEVERAGE PUBLIC RELATIONS/INVESTOR RELATIONS SUPERMARKET CONSUMER FAMILY FOUNDATION FUND RAISING SOURCE: General Mills Copyright Business Wire 2012 PUB: 02/28/2012 11:48 AM/DISC: 02/28/2012 11:48 AM http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120228006451/

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