It’s no secret that around the world, females tend to suffer most from the stresses of severe poverty. Insufficient resources to properly feed and educate all members of a family often result in forced early marriage for girls or their sale into slavery, while little to no education negatively impacts their ability to earn a living in adulthood, especially if they are widowed, not to mention their overall health and well-being. GHNI workers have repeatedly seen how improving women’s status benefits their families and their communities.
Here are three ways in which empowering women in the villages we serve transforms lives.
1. Lessons on Self-Sustainability
From the girl longing to improve her English to the daughter of a Nigerian chief setting an example for her village in water purification, Transformational Community Development (TCD) lessons are yielding encouraging fruit. Young Mithrilingum of U Village in Sri Lanka comes from a family too large to afford costly tutoring lessons, but when she heard that GHNI was offering an English class for free, she was “overjoyed to hear this good news.” Both her language and math skills have improved, thanks to the increased time and attention her regular schooling was unable to provide, potentially opening the door to a brighter future.
After hearing several TCD lessons on the importance of clean water, 14-year-old Grace, of Dogon Gada Village in Nigeria, began boiling and filtering her household’s drinking water through a cloth. Soon enough, other families in the village were following her example, which simple act will reduce the danger of waterborne disease.
In Upper Egypt Village Cluster, classes in women’s health address physical, emotional, and social needs, with participants training in groups for up to two years and receiving valuable messages on their true worth. As they share what they learn, these women are not only caring for their immediate environment, but building relationships with women of other faiths and improving their overall health.
2. Income Generation
It’s always exciting to see women find new purpose and self-esteem by starting their own small businesses.
At Jordan’s House of Ruth, lessons in making jewelry and scarves have yielded enough items for sale to cover the house’s expenses with additional income left over for reinvestment.
Thilagawathy, a Sri Lankan mother of two who sells both ready-made and handmade garments, has taken on a partner to handle increased business, calling her loan from GHNI a gift from God to her community, while in Myanmar’s Thar Yar Kung Village, hen-raising programs have brought new hope to widows who generally struggle just to survive. As one said, “I believe that it will be easier to make money for my grandchildren and myself.”
3. Slavery Prevention
An estimated 55 percent of people trapped in some form of slavery are women and girls , and GHNI field leaders are passionate about teaching villagers to recognize signs of human trafficking. Last fall, a three-day training session on slavery prevention and community health education was held in Nepal for ten women of varying ages and backgrounds, and workers in *BT Village, Nepal, use a simple series of questions to teach girls to be on their guard, such as, “What do you see? What is happening? What will we do about it?”
As a GHNI slavery prevention trainer noted last year: “I have given them lesson why people are trafficked from the village area mostly, how they make victims of trafficking. I tell them if someone strange comes into your village, then don’t trust with him/her without knowing their identification and don’t tell them your personal problems. Don’t go with him/her alone in new place and without having permission from parents or guardians. I have used TCD lessons to teach about vulnerability of human traffickers from the stories prepared by GHNI.”
The term “female empowerment” will mean different things to different people. Yet there is undeniable truth in the African adage that “If you educate a boy, you train a man. If you educate a girl, you train a village.”
Will you help us invest in the lives of girls and women, and the many other lives they will ultimately influence, today?
*For purposes of security and well-being, “BT Village” is a pseudonym of the village/person being helped by this project.
Originally posted on the GHNI website