International Women's Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women. (http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/history.shtml)
This year’s theme was described by Secretary-General Ban Ji-Moon as “Invest in rural women. Eliminate discrimination against them in law and in practice. Ensure that policies respond to their needs. Give them equal access to resources. Provide rural women with a role in decision-making.” Key contributors to global economies, rural women play a critical role in both developed and developing nations — they enhance agricultural and rural development, improve food security and can help reduce poverty levels in their communities. In some parts of the world, women represent 70% of the agricultural workforce, comprising 43% of agricultural workers worldwide.
Healthcare, education, gender inequality and limited access to credit, however, have posed a number of challenges for rural women. HealthNet TPO especially is involved in the health part. In many of our project countries we work on women’s participation in the community and their ability to address – or cope with - their problems.
For example in Afghanistan: frequently reported stressors in Afghanistan are poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, the effects of war and repression, and problems faced by children. The women and young girls have always been the stage for acts of violence that are typical to traditional lifestyle and cosmology, but the warfare of the past years has had its impact on how violence is now embedded in daily routine. The aim is to enable people to cope with the stresses of life and to be able to determine culturally appropriate solutions for (re-)occurring problems.
A more concrete example of women’s participation in the Afghan society is the midwifery programme: in consultation with village elders, young women may attend a HealthNet TPO midwife education programme (which has become national education curriculum now). After graduation they return to their rural villages to work as a midwife and to improve mother and child health.
On March 8 some local offices in Burundi, South Sudan and Afghanistan will pay attention to International Women’s Day by putting women, both staff and beneficiaries, in the spotlight. In Burundi for example a banner was placed supporting women’s rights. Female staff received flowers of our new country director and they are having drinks together in the evening.
For more information: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/