Empress Shoken Fund: supporting Red Cross Red Crescent work for 100 years
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Empress Shoken Fund, which was created in 1912 by Her late Majesty the Empress of Japan to support Red Cross and Red Crescent activities worldwide. Over the past century, the fund has grown substantially thanks to contributions from the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross Society, the Imperial Family and the Meiji Jingu shrine.
For the past 100 years, the Empress Shoken Fund has contributed to activities of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world. Each year, the Fund supports a wide range of initiatives, from tuberculosis programmes to first-aid training, from blood collection to community projects. Since the inception of the fund, more than 150 Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies have benefited from the philanthropic initiative of the Empress.
The annual allocation of grants traditionally takes place on 11 April, the anniversary of the Empress’ death. The most promising and innovative projects are awarded grants by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Despite the global financial crisis that started in 2008, the fund continues to support new Red Cross and Red Crescent activities, respond to the needs of the most vulnerable.
In 2012, the Empress Shoken Fund is awarding a total of CHF 100,076 to projects proposed by five Red Cross or Red Crescent societies on four continents.
Among the initiatives selected are a youth education project in Azerbaijan, a climate change project in Mexico, promotion of living standards for women in Senegal, communications technology in Trinidad and Tobago and blood donation in Tunisia.
Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan
Education of 90 children from vulnerable families living in rural areas of the Ismayilli region (CHF 25,000).
Mexican Red Cross
A health project will help combat cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and skin diseases linked to climate change, through preventive education in schools and vulnerable communities and mass publicity concerning the measures required to adapt to a changing climate (CHF 11,147).
Senegalese Red Cross Society
The Senegalese Red Cross Society is to build a professional training centre for vulnerable women in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar. Up to 250 women will undergo training in skills including cookery, micro-project management and first aid. They will also receive educational courses on sexually transmitted infections (CHF 24,821).
Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society
The geography of the country’s two islands and the distance between them make it particularly difficult and expensive to communicate and to coordinate operations. A project to link up via video technology will improve the National Society’s communications infrastructure, increase cooperation with public authorities and contribute to faster and better response in times of disaster (CHF 19,108).
Tunisian Red Crescent
The aim of this pilot project for blood donation in universities and places of work is to recruit new blood donors by changing behaviour and strengthening the capacity of the National Society’s blood donor services. One key element of the project will be to increase the number of regular donors with rare blood types (CHF 20,000).