Women Hold Up Half The Sky

8 Mar

Today, as many of you will know, is International Women’s Day, it is, in fact, the 100th anniversary It is also Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday and my husbands birthday!

Women hold up half the sky is a phrase which I first came across in 2000, when Tearfund, a UK-based NGO, ran a campaign with this as the title. The campaign focused on, that at that time, women made up just over half of the world’s population yet only earned ten per cent of the world’s income. More recently I’ve come across this phrase again from the book Half the Sky This is an eye-opening book which focuses on the three major abuses of women 1) Sex trafficking and forced prostitution 2) Gender based violence 3) Maternal mortality. Women hold up half the sky is actually part of a Chinese proverb. In its entirety it reads “Women hold up half the sky, but it’s the heavier half” Isn’t that true?

What is the best way to empower women around the world, especially in developing countries? Education.

Education is one of the best investments which developing countries can make, particularly in women. If a woman receives an education then she has the potential to transform her community. Knowledge gives women authority. Research has shown that educating women and girls results in a reduction in infant and maternal mortality, family health and nutrition improves, there is a reduction in the number of cases of HIV and AIDS and women get better jobs, which means an increased salary thus helping to improve the economy.

Sadly, there are still too many girls in the world who do not receive an education. Some of this is because poorer families need girls at home helping with the younger siblings, so that their mother can work, or indeed they have to work themselves. In other situations girls live in societies in the world where women are oppressed and refused the right of an education, or it is considered more important to educate sons in a family and not daughters.

International Women’s Day 2011 theme is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women” So, how do we see that even more women and girls in the years to come receive an equal education to their male counterparts? Many international organizations are working to make a difference so that women and girls are no longer discriminated against in their societies. They do this by providing aid, vocational training and education programs. Some international governments are including policy on girls education in their overseas aid programs. Organizations such as Compassion and World Vision have child sponsorship programs. These programs not only see that a child gets an education, investments are also made in the community that the child lives in.

How else can educating women and girls in the world be improved? What support is lacking?

“Educate a boy and you educate one person. Educate a girl and you educate a nation.”
A. Ibn Badis, Algerian Muslim Reformist.(1889-1940)

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