Today is International Women’s Day—a day to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women around the world. Here at Action Against Hunger, we meet so many women worth celebrating. In times of disaster and conflict, women and girls can be particularly vulnerable groups, but we serve countless women who show extraordinary resilience, dedication, and bravery in the face of adversity. In honor of International Women’s Day, today we are highlighting recent stories about women in Pakistan who found unique ways to use their skills to help rebuild their villages.
Choosing Recovery Projects with Gender in Mind
Areas across Pakistan are still reeling from disastrous flooding in 2010 and 2011. In the wake of the floods, our teams rushed to supply hundreds of thousands of displaced people with emergency relief. Today, we are focusing on long-term stability by helping flood-affected Pakistanis rebuild their lives. Cash-based interventions, such as the Cash for Work programs, are successful because they help people meet their own needs for recovery. Above and beyond their practicality, Cash for Work activities can also help create a feeling of community following a difficult crisis.
Men and women typically undertake different activities based on their preferences, customs, and community needs. For example, men cleared debris from roads, which increased access from the villages to markets. Women chose specific projects they could participate in while maintaining their cultural standards of working inside the home. This may seem like a limitation, but their involvement opened up new ways for these women to help their communities recover.
Crafting Baskets, Making Money
As a part of one Cash for Work project, women in the fishing village Yaqqob Mallah collected sticks from the riverbanks and fashioned them into baskets. These baskets are very important to every household, because they are used to transport food and other goods to and from the river, the fields, and the market. In addition to funding this specific project as a cash-based initiative, we provided the women with resources that covered their regular expenses for food and other household items so they could focus on growing their basketry businesses. Thanks to our teams’ support and these women’s skills, production doubled, and the baskets sold for a profit at local markets.
Repairing Homes, Restoring Security
In areas of heavy flooding, many homes were damaged and in serious need of repair. Groups of women worked as a part of a cash-based initiative to rebuild their own homes, using mud and grass as plaster. Their efforts ensured that villagers’ homes were repaired before winter arrived. By contributing to their families’ incomes, these women increased their self-confidence, and also raised their status in the community.
The women in these stories are remarkable, and they are not alone. We work with women all over the world who face incredible challenges just to survive. Our goal is to give every woman and girl the opportunity to not only survive, but thrive. This International Women’s Day, help us achieve our goal by making a donation or buying a gift from our Virtual Gift Catalogue that will empower women in places like Pakistan.