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Our world is made up of 49.55% women. Yet across the world boys and girls, women and men, are having their lives shaped by their biological sex rather than their personal capabilities and potential. On International Women’s Day, we come together to promote equal opportunities for women and girls and to celebrate the contribution women make in our global society.
Women experience things that men don’t. In the UK, 78% of companies pay men a higher salary than women. In Malawi, 42% of girls are married before they reach 18 years old, this means they are unable to finish their education, if they even got the chance to attend school in the first place. Globally, 1 in 3 women have experienced an act of gender based violence, although this figure is estimated to be far higher as many women do not speak out about their experiences. #MeToo has revealed this is as much of an issue in the UK as it is in countries we might more readily associate with gender inequality.
However, International Women;s Day is not a day that should be thought of negatively, instead, we should celebrate the work that is being done to challenge the gender inequality that exists in our world today. To celebrate, we are sharing some stories of woman and girls that All We Can have worked with – gender parity is possible if we all work together!
Economically Empowering Women
All over the world, All We Can is supporting groups of women that work together to earn an income. This helps women as they become empowered through their own hard work, they learn to value their own unique skills that can help themselves and their community.
In India, All We Can supports women’s saving groups that help women to invest money in tools to generate an income. In many of the groups women have reported personal experiences of domestic violence. Collaborating with others has meant they have been able to support each other, not only financially, but by providing emotional support for one another. The women, with the assistance of All We Can’s local partner organisation, speak to abusive husbands and work with them to help create change. Many men have since changed their attitudes, with one telling his wife, “You should go out and support the kind of women facing this abuse.” The women are empowered and now respected by their husbands.
We also work in Ethiopia, where women’s groups make stoves for other women. These stoves reduce the health risks from the traditional cooking methods which would produce a large amount of smoke, causing harm to the eyes and lungs.
In Jordan, local women are coming together with Syrian refugee women to create small businesses. These include hairdressing, clothes making, catering and soap making businesses. Many refugee women reached the camps without their husbands, therefore it is up to them to provide for the family. These businesses support female headed households by providing a stable income for the family to live off. These women also benefit from the social aspects of these businesses by working together, making friendships and providing emotional support for one another.
Educational Empowerment for Women
In Malawi, All We Can are helping young mothers claim back their education. Betina, became a mother and had to leave education without being able to read and write. She was given the chance to attend classes for young mothers and learnt literacy, numeracy and livelihood skills. Betina is working hard to give herself and her child a better life. Hazel, who works with All We Can’s partner organisation in Malawi talks about the girls’ transformation with education, “They have no self-confidence at all… Then with time and encouragement, we tell them how important they are in society. So slowly they begin to get enlightened and as the days come, you find their self-esteem coming back. They are able to raise their hand, they stand up, speak up, speak out. The mothers begin to transform their families and their own life. She becomes and a role model within the community.”
Gender Based Violence
Child marriage is an issue in many countries All We Can works in. Madhu, a young woman in India, is pursuing her dreams to be a football coach. Mandu knows her rights and is embracing them, she is going against the norm by not marrying young. She says, “Boys are sent outside for good education so girls should also be sent outside for good education. This should be there. There should be equality between both boys and girls. Both should have equal rights.”
We should be inspired and encouraged by these stories. Together, we can persue gender parity in the UK and all over the world. Join us in supporting incredible women and men to fulfil their potential.