This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is Embrace Equity. Equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA, and it’s critical to understand the difference between equity and equality.
The aim of the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. Read more about this here.
Here at Scotland’s International Development Alliance, our members work all over the world in partnership with women and girls to support projects designed to empower and uplift the voices of those who have been systematically silenced. A few of our members got in touch to share their work this International Women’s Day.
Ripple Effect – Hunger is a women’s issue:
By Sofanit Mesfin, Ripple Effect Gender and Social Inclusion Regional Coordinator
The aim of all our work at Ripple Effect is to combat poverty and hunger in rural east Africa, and we know that hunger is a women’s issue. As a woman in an isolated African community you are responsible for producing the meals for your family, but you are less educated, you have fewer skills, you have little opportunity to earn any money, you aren’t consulted about what crops might be grown or how any money might be spent.
When food is cooked, you eat last: after your husband, and after your children. So, very often, that means you don’t eat at all – even if you are pregnant, or breastfeeding. Some Ethiopian cultural practices actually preclude pregnant and breastfeeding women from eating certain high-protein foods.
More than two-thirds of all the project participants that Ripple Effect works with are women, and when we first begin working with a community we start by challenging these traditional gender roles.
By the end of the Ikawa n’Inka project in Rwanda, 88% of women project participants were making joint decisions in the home, up from just 47% at the start. In Rwanda’s Greening Girinka project, 59% of the “farmer promoters” elected by their communities were women.
And at the end of 2021 when men had to flee the Kutaber district in Ethiopia, as conflict swept across the region, women were better able to withstand the abandonment, 98.5% of those involved in the Developing Business Women project having reported “high” involvement in decisions about livestock and cash management.
Quality education is a fundamental human right, and yet 129 million girls are still out of school. Even for those in classes, multiple barriers prevent them from reaching their full potential. Link Education International is committed to helping all girls to achieve a quality education. We are currently running two major projects, funded by UKAid’s Girls’ Education Challenge, specifically targeted at tackling these intersecting barriers.
In Malawi, we are working with 5,000 girls who have either never been to school, or who dropped out before learning to read, write and count. Through community-based classes we help them learn the fundamentals and then support them to transition either into employment/entrepreneurship, vocational training or back into the formal school system. In Ethiopia, we are working with government to improve schools so they better support girls. Our project works with 144 primary and secondary schools, their school leaders and teachers, and over 60,000 girls and their parents and wider communities, to break down education barriers enabling girls to attend school, participate and thrive.
Transforming girls’ education is one of Link’s five strategic goals to bring quality education to all children. In the coming years we will focus on teaching and learning, but also on other crucial areas like building life skills, social and emotional learning, keeping girls safe, embedding sexual and reproductive health and working with communities to support girls’ right to learn.
The Mamie Martin Fund (MMF) supports girls’ secondary education in Northern Malawi, and we are 30 years old this year! Our #Birthday30 celebrations include challenging supporters to do 30 things, share info about MMF 30 times or tell 30 people about our work.
Our important work is recognised today by the Scottish Parliament through a motion submitted by Dr Alasdair Allan, MSP.
What can you do as just one person?
MMF recently got a legacy from a supporter. This kind gesture means that more girls can be supported at school.
MMF urges everyone to add a codicil to their Wills as their One Action for #IWD this year.
It really will make a lasting difference. It’s easy to feel that we can’t make a difference as an individual in the face of the world’s troubles. We can.