Collectively, we can press for progress to achieve gender equality
Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is what makes International Women's Day successful. Humana People to People joins the rest of the world in marking the International Women’s Day on 8 March. In 2018, the day is being commemorated under the theme Press for Progress.
Humana People to People has been and still is committed to providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in community development processes. The transformation of lives demands equality among mankind in influencing societal challenges affecting development.
Gender equality is at the forefront of the 2030 Development Agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals include a stand-alone goal to advance equality, and gender-related targets are integrated across most of the UN Global Goals. Something has opened a door for drastic progress in the lives of women and girls worldwide: it is the principle of leaving no one behind. Now, more than ever, there is a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There is a strong call to press for progress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
Why women's empowerment matters so much?
Inequalities faced by girls can begin right at birth and follow them all their lives. In some countries, girls are deprived of access to health care or proper nutrition, leading to a higher mortality rate. Humana People to People share the belief that successfully harnessing and mobilizing half of the world’s total talent pool has a huge impact on transformation of lives across the globe. Unfortunately, data shows that the gender gap is widening. The Global Gender Gap Report of 2017 indicates that progress is regressing and moving backwards. Instead of taking 170 years to close the gap at the current rate of progress, it is estimated that gender parity across the world will take over two centuries, 217 years to be exact.
Through education, a girl is building her own future, beyond that, the future of her community. The facts from SDG 5, which is about achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, reveal that in Sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school. Further the UN Women make it clear that every year, an estimated 15 million girls under 18 are married worldwide, with little or no say in the matter, and further about 62 million girls are denied education.
Achieving Gender Equality benefits Us All
Regardless of where you live, gender equality is a fundamental human right. Advancing gender equality is critical to all areas of a healthy society, from reducing poverty to promoting the health, education, protection and the well-being of girls and boys.
There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift families, communities and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Where women face discrimination, we often find practices and beliefs that are detrimental to all. Enacting legislature which give women power to own land and other properties, the abolishment of early marriages, ending Female Genital Mutilation, laws against domestic violence and equal pay legislation benefit everyone.
The Sustainable Development Goal 5 indicates evidence to the fact that investing in education programmes for girls and increasing the age at which they marry can return $5 for every dollar spent. Investing in programs improving income-generating activities for women can return $7 dollars for every dollar spent.
At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them.
What is Humana People to People doing about Gender Equity?
Humana People to People values gender equality as a human right issue, but it is also in all of the organization’s interests: men and boys, women and girls standing as equal members of society. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harm all of us. Humana People to People mobilizes families and entire communities as it implements social projects which treat girls and boys without bias.
Awareness campaigns are carried out in Child Aid actions targeting ending early marriages. Humana People to People Botswana and DAPP Zimbabwe are actively working together with community members to increase knowledge on dangers of engaging in early marriages. Such programs are supported with the government law enforcement agency in order to strengthen deterrence and curb further occurrence of negative cultural practices.
ADPP Angola is organizing 22 500 girls in the age range from 10 to 24 years in clubs, where they are informed and mobilized on prevention of HIV and unwanted pregnancies in three provinces of Angola. The project is again targeting 7 500 of the girls into getting an HIV test as it collaborate with 76 local nurses at the health centers. Further, there are 79 teachers or educational professionals participating in the project from primary and secondary schools. The nurses receive refresher courses about Sexual Transmitted Diseases including HIV and AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health education, counselling to teenagers about disease prevention, and testing for and treatment of HIV. Training of teachers takes the form of courses in physical, emotional and behavioral changes in adolescents girls and youths, and sessions about how to deal with these changes.
In India, Humana People to People India is achieving financial inclusion for rural poor women who are denied access to business financial capital. The Humana Microfinance provides loans to women in impoverished rural regions of India for a range of income-generating activities with the objective of eliminating poverty. Microfinance is the system of providing formal institutional credit to those who otherwise have no access to financial services, and is a pertinent tool in achieving financial inclusion of women and their empowerment.
During the course of 2017 the initiative has focused on building sustainable income generating opportunities for 36 000 rural women. 59% of the women have received financial support and bought buffalos and cows. Non-farm activities constituted 18.5% of the fund borrowings and the rest was availed to farm based activities reflecting a strong will to service rural poor households.
Humana People to People Teacher Training program is developed with a goal to increase access to education and thus reduce high illiteracy rates in poor countries of Africa and Asia. In order to guarantee universal access to education, Humana People to People do prioritize training of qualified primary school teachers. 2017 has seen a marked improvement in the number of female students who are graduating from the teacher training colleges in Mozambique, Malawi and Angola. Out of the 1 110 graduates from ADPP Angola’s 15 teacher training colleges 40% were female, whereas for Mozambique the 11 teacher training colleges graduated 1 581 qualified teachers of whom 48% were female, and in Malawi, the 4 teacher training colleges graduated 316 primary school teachers out of whom 65% are female. The remarkable figures are a huge leap forward in gender equality considering the cultural barriers and patriarch systems embedded in the communities.
Thanks to the 50% gender equality policy at recruitment within the teacher training colleges it has gone a long way in changing the perception of how female teachers are viewed and accepted in the teaching profession and in the communities they carry out their teaching practice.
The majority of the rural farmers are women. They labour the farm, provide livelihoods to their families despite the many challenges, among them lack of land ownership rights in some countries and natural disasters. Humana People to People supports about 65 000 small-scale farmers in Africa of whom 67% are women. The support is offered through the innovative Farmers’ Clubs program, which aims to reduce rural poverty, improve food security and increase the sustainability of livelihoods and ecosystems. The program organizes farmers in self-support groups and provides them with support and capacity building in climate smart agriculture, establishing market linkages and improving farm management.
Humana People to People remains committed to the global call to press for progress in achieving gender equality. Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.