International Women's Day: investing in women's education pays off for society as a wholePublished: Mar 7, 2023 Reading time: 5 minutes
International Women's Day is celebrated globally on 8 March. This day celebrates women's social, economic, cultural and political achievements worldwide, recognising our progress regarding equal opportunities and equal treatment and highlighting the obstacles and challenges women still face in many countries. One of the key areas where we need to change the situation is women's education. People in Need is involved in many programmes that aim to improve women's education.
- Women make up almost half of the world's population and the global workforce, but for every dollar earned by men, women earn only 77 cents.
- In February 2021, women accounted for only 24% of all members of national parliaments. Women perform 76.2% of all unpaid care work worldwide.
- Violence against women and girls remains a global problem, with one in three women worldwide experiencing physical or sexual violence, usually from an intimate partner.
- Women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty. Women are more likely to live in poverty than men, and differences in pay between women and men contribute to this disparity
According to United Nations data, many countries still have significant educational gaps between men and women. These differences have significant consequences for women's economic and social empowerment. If women are educated, they are more likely to enter the labour market, their social status increases, and they are more likely to have healthy and thriving children because they are better able to make health care and nutrition decisions.
Poverty affects women more than men, often making them responsible for the financial stability of the whole family, and even in the face of natural disasters, they try to provide everything necessary for their children and relatives.
Everything starts with education
People in Need supports girls in education in Ethiopia and Nepal. It builds schools in remote locations, trains teachers to teach, and also works to inform family members about girls' education. Education is the beginning for many girls, giving them the opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty and increase their social status.
How to get to school in rural Ethiopia
In rural Ethiopia, children are expected to help their parents with the day-to-day running of the household. For girls, this expectation is quite a burden.
Tayitu, who lives in southern Ethiopia in Mekonisa Kebele in the Gedeo Zone, tells us of how she was raised: “There were five of us at home. There was not enough food and clothes for everyone, so only two of my siblings could attend school. The rest of us stayed at home.“
Preparing food, fetching water, collecting firewood and taking care of younger siblings are tasks that society expects girls to do. This is also why they are often forced to stay at home, stop their education and usually marry at a young age.
Thanks to People in Need, the CHANGE project and UK Aid, girls can actively participate in education and find future employment. Over the past four years, more than 25,000 out-of-school girls have enrolled in alternative primary education programmes and adult education courses in Ethiopia. Approximately 270 adults have gone on to vocational training (TVET) or formed self-help groups to pursue their dreams. Tayitu is among the students who completed the two-year programme and joined a self-help group to start their own business.
EMPLOYMENT AS A KEY TO FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE
Gender equality and financial independence are two issues that are closely intertwined around the world. For many women, financial independence can be a key path to achieving independence and equality. One of the best ways to help women achieve financial independence is to offer them job opportunities and support them in gaining new skills. People in Need supports women in acquiring new skills, for example, in Armenia, Moldova, Mongolia, but also in Syria, where the entire family often depends on women's financial income.
The Future is Here: How Technological Innovations are Changing the World
Strengthening the position of women is a key element in building a sustainable society. As part of this, we want to share several short stories that highlight strong women and girls working in the field of technology and innovation in Cambodia. They are the ones who save lives, support other women in their communities, and fulfill their childhood dreams.
These women and girls are making significant contributions to society, but they still face many barriers. It is important to continue to support them and create a more inclusive and equitable world, where women can thrive and reach their full potential. Only then can we build a truly sustainable and just society for all.
Women among us
Stories of strong, indomitable, and inspirational women can be found even in our closest surroundings - for example, in 2022, 722 women and 1165 men worked in the Humanitarian and Development section of People in Need.
Aliona Plugaru has more than 20 years of professional experience in the NGO sector. She initially managed the programme, which focused on distributing small grants for community development in northern Moldova, and pioneered awareness-raising about civil society. She then joined our Moldova team in March 2022 and became our Regional Coordinator in the north of the country. Even after one year, she is happy with her decision and enjoys what she does.
"People in Need focuses on disadvantaged groups, and I have always wanted to do something to help people from the same background as me. That is also why I decided to join the People in Need team in Moldova, and I try to contribute to the better life of my fellow citizens," explains Aliona.
At the end of each working day, Aliona asks herself what she could do better to make tomorrow more efficient. She admits that she is often physically tired, but what gives her energy, enthusiasm, and strength is what she does, which is helping others. "And when you enjoy your work, it doesn't exhaust you; when you're doing something you enjoy, you're a happy person," she adds with a smile.
On International Women's Day, we celebrate the progress that has been made on the journey towards gender equality, but at the same time, we recognize that there is still much work to be done. Investing in women's education is a crucial step towards achieving gender equality and fully harnessing the potential of half the world's population. Let us work together to create a world where every girl has the opportunity to fulfill her potential and contribute to improving society.