Smiling Harriet*, 14, raising her hand to participate at her school in Northern Uganda.
Confident, Brave and Resilient Women
Gender inequality is a human rights issue that continues to impact women and girls even after the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 43 years ago. The consequences of gender inequality and its impact on health, education and economic well-being is well-documented and experienced all around the world.
Despite such difficulties, women and girls constantly prove how confident, brave and resilient they are. In commemoration of Mother’s Day, we want to highlight a few of the many extraordinary girls, women and mothers we work with and are constantly inspired by.
When Harriet*, 14, first fled South Sudan with her family, she was afraid she would never get back to school. After arriving in a refugee settlement in Uganda, she joined and excelled in our Accelerated Learning Programme for child refugees. Now, Harriet’s caught up on the education she missed and is doing brilliantly at school. Harriet dreams of becoming a lawyer to make life better for people in South Sudan.
"When a girl child is given a chance, she can do what a boy child can do."
Harriet understands that girls do not always have the same opportunities, which is why she uses her love of music and art to enact change. By writing songs and plays about gender equality, she’s changing perceptions of what girls can do. “I’m going to change the world,” she says and we can’t wait to see her do it. Harriet’s confidence in girls’ ability to succeed is a force to be admired and recognized.
A mother will do anything to make sure her child comes into the world safely. Eliza* from Mozambique bravely gave birth under a tree on her own a few days after her home was destroyed by a cyclone. Her husband was out looking for food and her children were asleep, and the nearest hospital was more than an eight hour walk, which made it impossible for her to get there on time. “I had to have the courage to give birth alone...” said Eliza. Eliza went to our Emergency Health Unit mobile clinic because she was experiencing complications following her birth and she wanted to get her newborn baby, Ester*, checked by the medical staff. In the clinics, our teams of nurses and doctors provide antenatal and postnatal care, vaccinations, and treatment for diseases such as malaria and diarrhea. Thanks to Eliza’s unmatched courage and dedication to her baby’s needs, both mother and baby are healthy and safe.
Realizing the huge impact access to health services and awareness have on women and children globally, Save the Children has consistently provided and supported health care centers around the world. We know that the need for maternal health services are exacerbated due to crises like natural disasters, which is why we set up our Emergency Health Units in disaster-impacted places (like Eliza’s community in Mozambique) to make sure women and girls have access to the health care services they need.
Eliza* and her newborn baby, Ester.*
Sufia* (24) in her shop after its expansion using support from Save the Children’s income generation programme, which is funded by USAID.
Sufia*, 24, grew up in a camp for displaced people in Somalia, where she did not have access to healthcare, education, employment or water. Sufia divorced her husband and moved to another camp with her children and mother. After the divorce, Sufia had no source of income and had to adjust to the life in the new camp. Determined to remain strong and resilient for her family, she opened a small shop to support her children and mother. Sufia then applied for a business grant from Save the Children through our income generation programme. The programme gave Sufia $680, which she used to expand her shop and access a training in business management and basic math. Now, Sufia no longer feels like she needs to rely on others for support.
"Previously, I was relying on other people. Now I can do my own thing and support my children... I feel positive because people can see [that] I am supporting my children and my mother."
At Save the Children, we are proud to walk along and partner with women like Harriet, Eliza and Sufia to ensure a better world for future generations. Our vision is a world where all girls and boys are equally heard and valued, where they have equitable access and time to devote to education, to work, to rest and to play. For girls and women, we want to make sure that their world is one in which their aspirations know no limits and they are free to fulfill their potential, to have equal opportunities, to decide their own future and empower those around them.
To do that, we must:
- Prioritize gender-transformative approaches to Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) in our programs.
- Prevent child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence by advocating and participating in national and international coalitions against the practice. Our Social Behavior Change team leverages its distinctive expertise, making us a recognized leader in effectively combining behavior-change strategies with community engagement – essential for making progress toward ending child marriage.
- Improve women’s economic opportunities and independence by working to remove barriers to the fulfillment of women and girls’ rights, including the right to agency, capability, opportunity and an environment to earn and manage a decent income.
- Ensure that girls, boys and all children have access to safe and quality learning. Our global Safe Back to School initiative focuses on helping girls continue learning during the pandemic by 1) increasing girls’ access to and use of distance learning; 2) providing families affected by poverty with cash vouchers for girls’ schooling; 3) addressing girls’ needs at school (such as availability of menstrual hygiene supplies); 4) and challenge gender norms that value boys’ education over girls’.
- Advocate for policies that will advance gender equality. We engage in advocacy that leads to the U.S. government commitments to advancing gender equality globally, such as the establishment of the White House Gender Policy Council and mandating an update to the USAID Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy.
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