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International Women’s Day 2019: Call to Build a Gender Equal World

Posted 08 March 2019 in EMpower News, Grantee Partner News   |   Share


The Global Gender Gap Report 2018, published by the World Economic Forum, states that the average gender gap worldwide is 32%. It concludes that at the current pace, it will take us 108 years to achieve full gender parity.

There is a prominent divide in educational attainment, economic participation and opportunity, health and survival, and political empowerment.

In the face of glaring disparities, it becomes important to acknowledge and celebrate the hard-earned victories and relentless efforts of our grantee partners working to accelerate gender balance.

Exposing girls to non-traditional livelihoods

In Gujarat’s Juhapura community, EMpower is supporting SAATH Charitable Trust in providing a curriculum-based training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects to 200 adolescent girls through a community science lab. It is also helping 200 women gain technical training and placement support in non-traditional livelihoods.

These young girls and women belong to low-income migrant families and are affected by little or no support at home, a result of low parental literacy and pressures to supplement family income rather than study. Women are mostly vegetable sellers and wage laborers and often their daughters join them at an early age which leads to attrition in school. It is important to mention that parents often prioritize investing in their sons’ education.

Yesterday, SAATH completed 30 years of helping youth, especially young girls and women who have dropped out of school or college, to build their confidence and access decent livelihoods.

Driving change through sport

United Through Sport (UTS) is a South Africa-based NGO working with youth from disadvantaged backgrounds using the power of sport to improve education, raise health awareness and build life skills.

UTS provides increased educational opportunities, using a tiered sport-for-development program to

1) improve emotional well-being and increase life skills (teamwork, leadership, decision-making and communication);
2) discuss critical issues such as HIV/AIDS and gender equality in a fun and interactive manner on the sports field; and

3) equip at-risk youth in Port Elizabeth with the knowledge and skills to continue schooling, succeed in secondary school and go on to tertiary education or secure employment.

UTS is one of few sports-focused co-ed organizations in South Africa that successfully engages girls and young women, maintaining a 50:50 gender split.

The current EMpower Spark and Ignite grant to UTS is helping them strengthen their GirlsUnite program by engaging with mothers, fathers, and caregivers in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa to help them understand how to better support their daughters and their needs while emphasizing the importance of education for girls. The EMpower Spark & Ignite Award intends to inspire and enable strong grantee partners to “think outside the box” and experiment with a new idea or approach that will create more opportunities, agency or skills for adolescent girls. Girls invite their parents/caregivers to workshops organized by UTS that address relationship building, empathy, problem solving, parenting skills/support, and safety. It is a participatory and collaborative approach with activity-based learning, role-play, visuals, and homework.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, UTS hosted a graduation ceremony for a cohort of the GirlsUnite program, with parents/caregivers packing a full house.

Promoting health

Asociación Minga Peru was founded by Eliana Elias in 1998 to improve the lives of indigenous river communities in the Peruvian Amazon, developing innovative programs that empower women and families through mass media, community health promotion, leadership development, and income generation. For the past 18 years, Minga has run programs to provide leadership training and income generation projects to over 43 rural communities to improve their conditions of poverty and marginalization.

They run a successful radio program, “Bienvenida Salud” (Welcome Health) that reaches over 120,000 people daily to address and inform on important topics including domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, human rights and gender equality.

EMpower’s grant to Asociación Minga Peru is distributed in three key institutional programs for Minga in the Peruvian Amazon to develop their organizational capacity/visibility.

This grant will help support Asociación Minga Peru in the following ways:

  • To create a Radio Show on the topics of sexual and reproductive health rights, human rights, prevention of violence and conservation of natural resources
  • To train 30 women leaders on breast cancer and cervical cancer prevention
  • It will allow them to implement 1 fish farm for a beneficiary family and 6 agroforestry plots.

Additionally, the funds will help them continue to grow institutionally by strengthening their visibility in the sector and their fundraising efforts their visibility in the sector and their fundraising efforts.

“Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”

In her statement on the occasion of International Women’s Day, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, emphasizes the need to put “innovation at the centre of efforts to reflect the needs and viewpoints of women and girls and to resolve barriers to public services and opportunities.”

This year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, is a call for collective action to accelerate gender balance. Though many challenges lie on the road to a gender equal world, today – and every day—- we remain immensely proud of our grantee partners who are constantly finding innovative and sustainable solutions to bridge the gap.

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