All posts tagged: Girl’s empowerment

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3 Ways Girls Are Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Do you ever have those moments in life that stick out as “light bulb” moments? Whether you are driving down a road or in a meeting at work. Something hits you like a ton of bricks and you understand certain aspects of life more clearly. One of these “light bulb” moments occurred for me three years ago at the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I walked into the UN with head held high, ready to attend a high level lunch to talk about progress for women, girls and children. I brushed by Melinda Gates and ran into Mohammed Yunus and chatted with him for a little while. I am not the type of person who gets star struck but let’s just say there were a lot of important people in the room. As the beautiful lunch continued, I scanned the room and quickly realized there wasn’t one single girl, woman or child in the room. At that moment I remember thinking: What makes us think that we can wall ourselves into a high level lunch …

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Letter to A Young Girl

This letter is written by a young woman to her earlier self whose career is about to take a huge transformation. In this letter, she reflects on which characteristics and attitudes she wishes to retain and what she hopes to accomplish as she progresses forward to achieving her medical dreams. She also hopes that it will inspire other girls to go confidently as they pursue their scientific careers. Dear Me, I hope you’re well. I cannot tell you what you will encounter in the next four years, the people who will change your life, the experiences that will leave an ingrained memory in your brain. A lot of questions flood my mind as I think about the journey you will go through: Do you still keep your sense of poetry? Your creative writing? Does the idea of taking care of another human being terrify you? Do you still give humorous lectures of how things work in the molecular world? Do you still only eat fish and vegetables just to keep your mental faculties sane? (Please do relax sometimes! And …

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Gender Parity in Lesotho: 10 Years Later

Post Written By Stephanie Vizi In 2006, married women in the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho, gained equal legal standing to men under the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act. Now, any woman can legally own land, receive inheritance, and make her own decisions. Prior to 2006, women in Lesotho were considered legal minors. In 2003, the Sexual Offences Act was enacted to combat sexual violence. The Act officially defined all forms of unwanted sexual penetration as rape, not just vaginal penetration as it was prior to this Act. This act also gives legal rights and validity to men who have been raped. In addition, it states that marriage or any other relationship is not a legitimate defence to sexual violence. 10 Years Later It’s been over 10 years since these laws were put into place to protect women from gender inequality and abuse. However, implementation has been slow, especially in rural, mountainous villages, which accounts for the majority of the Basotho population. According to Thato Letsela, Help Lesotho’s Officer for Leadership Centres, “In general …

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Respecting Your Body: The Key to Attaining Self-Respect and Becoming Your Best Self

“How do you manage to stay so fit and still accomplish all of your goals on your own?” “I’m a vegetarian who does a lot of martial arts and cardio exercises every day, and I always make sure to touch base with myself at the end of the day.” Questioning looks. Silent glares. “Is that even humanly possible?” they whisper. Self-confidence and self-esteem are two of the most common issues that women and girls face. In order to help them reach their full potential, we need to address these issues. When I was 15, during lunchtime, my classmates would stare at my lunch filled with an array of different vegetables and fruits and ask whether I had eaten enough to fuel my body for the rest of the day. Even in college, whenever I chose not to eat meat, people would give me blank stares and whisper behind my back. What’s wrong with the choices that I have made for myself? Although many people are not vegetarians and are not committed to a rigorous exercise and sleep regimen …

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Celebrating Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Work in Africa

In the words of former American President Woodrow Wilson, “We are not here merely to make a living, but to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision and a finer spirit of hope and achievement.” Some ordinary people have taken it upon themselves to add value to their countries and empower communities, making them exceptionally extraordinary. On International Womens Day, I asked several of my friends, and fellow champions of women’s economic empowerment, at Empower Women to help me identify and celebrate such African women. These are strong, courageous women who have overcome many challenges to achieve their dreams. Their zeal to improve the welfare of women and alleviate poverty is what makes them outstanding. Here are inspiring stories of four incredible African women, as nominated by the champions. Faith Kasoni (Kenya)- Leading Anti-FGM Campaigns Teresa Abila from Kenya, nominated this courageous woman from Samburu, one of the counties in rural Kenya that FGM is still widely practiced. Teresa says that she admires Faith because she decided not to undergo the cut as an …

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Why We Can’t Fully Empower Girls and Women Without Engaging Boys and Men

By Stephanie Vizi Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that affects us all – women and girls, men and boys. Everyone benefits socially, politically and economically from gender equality. When women are empowered, the whole of humanity benefits. Gender equality liberates not only women but also men, from prescribed social roles and gender stereotypes. The Harsh Reality of Gender Inequity in Lesotho: Lesotho has the world’s 2nd highest rate of AIDS Women are more vulnerable to contracting HIV—in the 15-24 age bracket, 1/4 of men and HALF of young women have HIV or AIDS. Based on GDP, Lesotho’s poverty level ranks #149 out of 184 countries Women are disproportionately affected by poverty, leading to: lack of education … human trafficking … prostitution …  depression … hopelessness 61% of women in Lesotho have experienced some form of sexual violence Powerlessness and vulnerability lead to sexual violence and abuse Patriarchal values and norms create power imbalances and limit women’s rights Stereotyping of girls and women as ‘lesser’ leads to: …

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Five Ways to Promote Gender Equality in 2016

We are only few days away from New Year’s eve, and the air is filled with the exciting promise of the endless possibilities of the new year. The chance to start over, clean the slate, make resolutions about being a better You – perhaps related to a healthier lifestyle, spending less money, being better at keeping in touch with family and relatives, exercising more, spending less time on the internet, learning a new skill. Resolutions often reflect the person we think we would like to be – an ideal version of Me. This New Year’s, perhaps you can make a resolution to do one thing in 2016 to promote gender equality in your community. It doesn’t need to be anything big or grand, because even the smallest of things can make a huge difference in a person’s life – and, the smallest of actions are often the catalyst for a bigger wave of change and progress. Here are five suggestions on how You can step up for gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights in …

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Ensuring Girls are Empowered to Avoid Post-Colonial Pitfalls

Our recent work with strengthening resilience in rural Kenya has brought to light an important issue on women’s empowerment: the lasting impact of colonial rule that continues to hinder women’s full leadership capacity and capabilities. This has forced us to take a step back and reexamine our approach to development in the community. Despite the strong female leadership in the community, there is a strong need to please. Women of all ages, still struggle to challenge perceived figures of authority even when what is proposed may go against cultural norms or what they think is best for the community. They are driven by the constant need to say yes, and agree while inwardly saying no. Instead of standing up and speaking up, the tendency is for them to shut down. As an organization seeking to make a long lasting impact in the community, we have found this to be quite a challenge. What is now considered a thing of the past, the effects of colonialism continue to be manifested in the lives of many women in rural …

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Tuning in to Change

Written by Ryan Borcherding, International Training Officer, Theatre for a Change We’re packed inside a small broadcasting studio in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe. It’s 6:59pm.  In a minute, we’ll hit the airwaves live.  The tension – the excitement – is palpable. Tisinthe! – meaning “Let’s Change!” – is the first of its kind in the world.  It’s a show that features interactive radio drama, which lets people become characters in the drama they hear. Aside from being entertaining, this interaction serves to address a major challenge in the world of development:  how to translate knowledge into behavior change? Tisinthe! aims at improving the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls in Malawi, with a specific focus on preventing HIV.  Most Malawians know how HIV is spread, and how it can be prevented, yet Malawi still has the 9th highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. How can a radio show help to bridge this gap between knowledge and behavior?  How can it go beyond just giving out information, and actually influence what people do? By design, …

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Girl Power: 2015 International Day of the Girl

October 11th, International Day of the Girl, is a perfect opportunity to celebrate all the girls you know.  Tell them how strong they are.  Tell them how important and powerful they are.  Tell them they can do anything they choose.  Tell them how important their education is for their future.  Celebrate all the girls! Empower Girls Education empowers girls. When we invest in girls, we create a healthier, more prosperous future for everyone. Girls’ education bolsters their dignity, saves mother’s and children’s lives, and improves the socio-economic status of the entire world! At this very moment, there are 600 million adolescent girls around the world. That’s 600 million opportunities to improve human rights, spur economic growth, and improve the social development of families, communities, and countries for decades to come. Let’s empower girls! Mobilize Girls Today’s adolescent girls are the next generation of leaders in the world. We know that technology creates endless opportunities.  Cell phone technology is now reaching even the most remote parts of the world.  Yet, there’s a gender gap as girls still have …