Photo: Taken by Aidlink, Uganda 2017
Today is International Women’s Day. This year International Women’s Day comes on the heels of an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality & justice. People around the world are mobilizing for a future that is equal. The theme for the 2018 UN International Women’s Day is “Time is Now: rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives. ” Many of Aidlink’s target communities are within rural locations. The development programmes implemented here are working to improve the lives of the rural women and girls. The activists within these communities are mentors and champions for girl’s rights.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women for International Women’s Day said in a statement:
“This year’s theme captures the vibrant life of the women activists whose passion and commitment have won women’s rights over generations and successfully brought change. ”
She goes on to say:
“Healthy societies have a wide mix of voices and influences that provide the checks and balances, the differing threads of experience and perspectives, and the debate that shapes good decisions making. Where voices are missing, there is an important gap in the fabric of society. ”
Photo: Taken by Aidlink, Uganda 2017
Rural women make up a quarter of the world’s population. Many rural women fare worse than rural men or even urban women. In rural areas, the pay gap for women and men can be as high as 40%. In these rural areas, women are more likely to be poor, lack assets, healthcare, education and other essential services. Despite this, the majority of these women work from daybreak until sundown and without them many of these rural communities would not function.
This story is an example of just one courageous woman in one of Aidlink’s target areas. Jenifer Taraya, is a Massai woman from Kajiado County, Kenya. Jenifer is the youngest of her husband’s four wives and has seven children, two boys and five girls. Jenifer’s eldest daughter completed secondary school at the age of nineteen and wanted to transition to college to become a teacher. However, Jenifer’s husband refused and insisted their daughter be married off immediately for a dowry. Not long after this, Jenifer joined the school management committee at Empukani School, an Aidlink supported school, here she learned the opportunities for employment that girls can gain through education. Jenifer tried to convince her new-son-in-law to allow her eldest daughter to follow her dream of becoming a teacher. Although he finally accepted he stated he would not pay the college fees or take care of their son. Jenifer refused to give up and went to her local Constituency Development Fund for the college fees and decided to take care of her grandson herself. Jenifer’s daughter is now studying for a Bachelor of Education and Jenifer herself is a mentor to the school girls in Empukani Primary School.
There is enormous potential in these rural communities and Aidlink’s sustainable development programmes aim to leave no one behind. To work towards achieving equality for rural women, particularly in areas such as education, will nurture a better future for all. It is today on International Women’s Day; we celebrate the story of women like Jenifer.
Photo: Taken by Aidlink partner GCN, Turkana, Kenya 2018.
“Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed. Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.”