Written by Arooj Iftikhar, edited by Kristina Smith. Written with submissions from Mzikazi Ntuli (ADPP), Argentina Tembe (Associação Progresso), Arooj Iftikhar (Bedari), Samwel Gasuku (IAE) and Maheen Malik (SPARC). Photo Credit: IAE
In March, we pressed for progress on International Women’s Day. However, our efforts to promote women and girl’s rights continues every day of the year. Here are five ways GIRLS Inspire is working to achieve greater equality and promote women and girl’s rights:
#1 Advocating for policies that support women and girls
Advocacy is an essential component through which we can convey our message to higher authorities and create policy change that supports women and girls. Building networks is one way to ensure that the issues which impact women and girls progress are on the policy agenda. GIRLS Inspire partners work collaboratively to ensure issues such as ending child marriage, are on the policy agenda. In Pakistan, SPARC advocates by participating in conferences and seminars at national and provincial levels. Bedari is currently advocating for raising the marriageable age for girls from 16 to 18 years in Pakistan, by working with opinion makers in communities; and at the national level with ministers, opposition leaders, senators, local government officials, doctors, teachers and academia as well as through different seminars and conferences. Using networks is also an important strategy for advocacy. Over the past few years the partners successfully advocate for gender equality through the following networks: Associaçao Progresso is a member of the Coalition for the Elimination of Early Marriages in Mozambique. Bedari is a member of several networks in Pakistan, such as Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG), Child Rights Movement (CRM) and National Action and Coordination Group (NACG). Associaçao Progresso and Bedari are both members of Girls Not Brides alliance as well.
#2 Showcasing the stories of women and girls
Ensuring the stories and voices of women and girls are heard is a crucial step in promoting a more gender equal world. Understanding the realities women and girls face daily is a beginning step to positive change. GIRLS Inspire partners showcase the stories of women and girls in many ways. For example, the Institute of Adult Education (IAE) has a dedicated women desk that addresses key issues affecting women and a magazine “Sauti ya Wanawake” (Women’s Voice) that covers a range of topics on women such as Women and Gender, Women and HIV/AIDS and Women and Water, Women and Income Generating Projects. Using national TV, ADPP in Mozambique showcased girls’ stories on the negative consequences of child, early and forced marriage which denied them choices and their voice. This video was shared on national TV for international women’s day and on social media.
#3 Celebrating Women and Girls on National and International Awareness Days
GIRLS Inspire celebrates the success and achievements of women and girls on national and international awareness days. Involvement in such activities helps strengthen the support for the rights of women and girls within communities and improves the bond with other like-minded organisations. For International Women’s Day 2018, our partners held a variety of celebrations and events to draw attention to women’s rights. In Bangladesh, CMES celebrated International Women’s Day by arranging events like a rally, seminar, debate, cross-cutting cycle race of the girls, football and volleyball competition for the girls in their communities. The girls also implement various social actions to prevent child marriage, violence against women and other forms of repression against girls and women. Below are photos of GIRLS Inspire celebrations for IWD2018:
IWD2018 march in Mozambique with ADPP
Bedari participated in the walk arranged by Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) on International Women's Day
Playing volleyball for IWD Celebration in Bangladesh. Photo Credit: CMES
KIWOHEDE celebrates IWD.
#4 Providing education and economic opportunities for women and girls
Increasing access to education and economic opportunities for women and girls is a key way to improve the rights and equality of women and girl. GIRLS Inspire partners provide educational and economic opportunities, particularly to women and girls who dropped out of school, due to many barriers. While in each country the context is different, GIRLS Inspire partners provide many services to encourage the resiliency of women and girls. In Tanzania, IAE delivers programs for out-of-school adolescents and teenage mothers. In Mozambique, Associaçao Progresso offers literacy courses for women and girls who did not complete their formal education. ADPP works to reintegrate women and girls back into school and connect women and girls with internships, job placements, and startup kits for businesses. In Bangladesh, CMES provides vocational skills training on fashion garments and computer trade to the girls and women so that they can become economically self-reliant by either self-employment or wage-employment. In Pakistan, Bedari works to re-enroll out of school girls who are victims of child marriage and supports girls with travel expenses so they can reach school daily. SPARC provides vocational training and connections to employment for women and girls. These initiatives offer new opportunities to women and girls, encouraging independence and greater equality.
#5 Developing confidence in women and girls, so they can be champions of change
GIRLS Inspire deliver life skills training to women and girls, to increase confidence, decision-making and independence in their lives. The training includes self-growth sessions, leadership training and knowledge on social and legal rights for the women and girls. These sessions give women and girls the confidence to take on new roles within their families and communities and become advocates for themselves. After participating in GIRLS Inspire, women and girls have gained financial independence, worked to prevent child marriage within their communities, run their own business and have increased their decision making in their home and community. Women and girls, if given the confidence, can be their own advocate for greater rights in their daily life.
GIRLS Inspire participant with Kiwohede takes part in our IWD2018 campaign.
Visiting a training centre in Pakistan. Photo Credit: SPARC