The issues women and girls face stretch far and wide across the globe, and progress can often feel slow when the numbers of oppressed women are so high. But if there is one thing to take away from the Half the Sky Movement, it is this: There are solutions.
Sex trafficking. Gender-based violence. Maternal mortality. Forced prostitution. How do we combat these issues? One of the most effective methods is education. Currently, one in five eligible girls worldwide are not attending primary school – this is unacceptable. We need to make sure that every girl has access to an affordable education. Schooling is not just a solution for girls, but for communities as well. Through education, girls are less vulnerable to trafficking, tend to have fewer children, and gain greater access to the job market.
Some of the actions we can take to promote global education are simple. We can provide deworming medication to keep children in school, supply school uniforms, or even provide financial incentives to families in exchange for students’ regular attendance.
Another method to combat gender inequality is economic empowerment. Through microfinance loans, livestock gifts, and proper vocational training, women can begin to take charge of their lives and the family income. Some studies suggest that women are more responsible with their income than men –– they invest approximately 80 cents of every dollar earned back into their family.
The Half the Sky Movement is helping to encourage these solutions by highlighting organizations that focus on education and economic empowerment.
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• Promote Economic Empowerment
Young students receiving new books at a Room to Read ceremony in Vietnam
Donate to Organizations Making a Difference
Focusing on girls in the most in-need communities, Camfed offers a package from elementary school to adulthood, supplying school fees and uniforms, supporting finance and business management, in hopes these girls will become leaders for their communities. Now, the first generation of Camfed USA is becoming part of the Camfed Association. As part of a network of motivated and empowered women, Camfed has produced a self-sustaining community.
Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package, CARE is a leading global humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Girls and women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Last year CARE worked in 84 countries and reached 122 million people.
Since 1944 Heifer International has been providing families with gifts of livestock and training, improving their nutrition and helping them to generate income in sustainable ways. Their work has focused on long-term development, helping people obtain a sustainable source of food and income. To date Heifer International has helped more than 15 million families in more than 125 countries become more self reliant.
Kashf provides a range of economic services to poor women and their households to help them holistically transform their lives. With a vision of uplifting poor women and their households in both the economic and social sphere, the Kashf program provides micro-credit services and ancillary financial education, gender training, and business development services to tap into their entrepreneurial potential. Kashf currently operates through a network of 157 branches and has an active client base of 284,000 clients.
Since 1971, Opportunity International has been taking action to reduce global poverty by providing access to savings, small loans, insurance and training. Opportunity now serves more than four million clients with the tools they need to provide for their families and work their way out of poverty. Ninety-three percent of loans are made to women, who have a 95 percent loan repayment rate. Opportunity International empowers people to provide for their families, send their children to school, employ their neighbors and strengthen their local communities.
The Population Council conducts research to address critical health and development issues. They are working to stop the spread of HIV, provide more reproductive choices, and ensure that young people lead full and productive lives. The Population Council, in partnership with several NGOs and financial institutions, is designing programs to expand safe spaces and build social, health, and economic assets for adolescent girls in Kenya’s urban slums. Their work leads to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world.
Room to Read
Across Africa and Asia, Room to Read turns their vision of a world where all children can pursue their right to an education into a reality. They help develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with necessary life skills. Since 2000, Room to Read has benefitted the lives of more than 6.5 million children by establishing libraries, building classrooms, publishing locally-relevant children’s books, providing teacher training, resources, and helping girls gain equal access to education.
Shining Hope for Communities
SHOFCO provides free education for girls and a network of empowerment and poverty alleviation programs in one of Africa's largest slums: the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. SHOFCO's founder, Kennedy Odede, was born and raised in the Kibera slum, where he dreamed of changing the position of women and children in his society. With 20 cents of savings, he started SHOFCO, which has since grown into one of the largest grassroots organizations in the slum.
Women's World Banking
Women’s World Banking is the only microfinance network catering solely to women. Networking with 39 financial organizations from 27 countries, they provide small loans for women to start businesses. With the money, the goal is to increase the quality of living and support family basic needs. Advocates in the power of girls, they also provide a savings project for girls, hoping to alleviate the possibility of risk of violence, assault, and HIV.