Here come the girls!

The 8th March is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.   The Millennium Development Goals are calling for gender equality by 2015.  Last week, the UN created UN Women, a new agency to promote the empowerment and equality of women everywhere.

But are things really looking up for the girls and women of the world?  Globally, the ITUC reports that women earn only 84% of what men do.  A greater number of women work in the informal sector, notorious for its instability and low wages.  UNESCO reports that two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterates are women, and 73% of the children not attending primary school are girls.   The world is not on track to meet the gender equality MDG by 2015.

Gender inequality is not only a major cause of poverty, it has serious impacts on a society’s children.  Recent research by Save the Children shows that countries with empowered women have lower child mortality rates.  Improving women’s education means their children have a much better chance of surviving.

COCO’s projects help tackle gender inequality in lots of different ways.  At the Hoja Project in Tanzania, we sponsor girls through school to help them get an education.  In Ghana, Wulugu’s income generation projects train girls to make money for their futures and their families.  By providing a reliable water source at Olomayani Nursery school in Uganda, we’ve freed girls and women from the time-intensive task of collecting water each day.   Giving women education, and empowering them to run businesses and take the lead in their communities, not only helps more children survive.  It brings more income and innovation to communities, reduces poverty, and transforms societies.  Check out The Girl Effect video, for further food for thought.

– Mel Punton, COCO Volunteer

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