I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. – Audre Lorde (writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist.)
Today, March 8, we stand with millions of people around the globe to recognise International Women’s Day, a day that honours the achievements of women and girls everywhere.
This year’s theme is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives,” recognising the significance of recent unprecedented social movements around the world for women’s rights, justice, and equality and their transformational power.
Women’s rights movements — propelled by the bravery of sexual assault survivors, accelerated by the work of activists, and shared on social media platforms — have put women’s role in society at the forefront of global discussions. From #MeToo in the United States of America, to other protests against sexual harassment and violence, such as #YoTambien in Mexico, Spain, South America and beyond; #QuellaVoltaChe in Italy; #BalanceTonPorc in France; and #Ana_kaman in the Arab States, everyday activists around the world have forced the global conversation towards issues of sexual assault, gender-based violence, gender equality, equal pay and women’s political representation.
International Women’s Day 2018 is a time to leverage this momentum and move towards real change for women around the world. Every year during this time of year, The Hunger Project joins thousands of other organisations and activists to celebrate those that work tirelessly, day in and day out, to ensure that every woman is treated with the dignity and respect she deserves.
Rural women are the backbones of their communities. They work the land and support their families, ensure food security for their communities, and feed their nations. However rural women fare much worse than rural men or urban women on many development indicators. For example, rural women only own 20 percent of land worldwide, despite the fact that they represent 43 percent of people in the global agricultural labour force.
This level of inequality is significant in a world where rural women make up over a quarter of the world population. Global pay inequality is also a challenge. While women make 70 cents on the dollar as compared to men globally, in rural areas, it can be as low as 60 percent. We know from data monitoring on Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality, that rural women often lack access to life-saving services and healthcare, and are left more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Empowering women to reach their full potential means respecting women’s rights and dignity as human beings. That’s why The Hunger Project works to support and build the capacity and skills of women and girls in our program areas. For instance, in India, The Hunger Project builds leadership skills among women who have been systematically denied information, freedom of motion and a voice in decision making. We support empowering the women electorate, encouraging voter participation among women and the election of women leaders to all panchayat (village council) seats. Since 2000, The Hunger Project India has trained 175,000 women leaders elected to their local councils to be effective agents of change in their communities.
At our Epicentres across Africa, tens of thousands of women food farmers are increasing their incomes and strengthening their clout in the marketplace through our Microfinance Program, training, credit and savings program. Our Women’s Empowerment Program throughout Africa and specialised animator training worldwide empowers women to seek positions of leadership and train all of our partners, women and men, to take responsibility for improving lives in their communities.
In Bangladesh, programs like our Safe School for Girls Campaign empowers students, teachers, parents and local communities to stop child marriages and promote opportunities for girls. Since the program’s launch, more than 20,000 people have been trained in Safe School for Girls workshops.
And, to support us achieving the most impact possible, our Women’s Empowerment Index is designed to measure progress in the multi-dimensional aspects of women’s empowerment, which better informs and improves our programs that target empowering women.
This year, join us in standing with women and girls everywhere.
Overcoming inequality for rural and urban women is absolutely critical to achieving the end of hunger. Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, to demand equality for all.