This year’s Christian Aid Week (10-16 May 2015), Britain’s longest running door-to-door fundraising week, is asking the British public to support women living in poverty around the world who are discriminated against from birth.
Discrimination against women is one of the greatest injustices of our time and the statistics speak for themselves. Globally, less than 20 per cent of landholders are women and women do twice as much unpaid work as men. In many countries girls are treated like second-class citizens while boys are provided with opportunities for an education, work, food and even decision making at the expense of their sisters.
Almost as soon as girls are strong enough to walk many can spend hours fetching water and doing household chores. Often forced into early marriages, they can also face the dangers of giving birth before their young bodies are ready. Deprived of an education, later in life women have to rely on men for their financial security, with any hope of following their own dreams dashed, leaving them vulnerable to deprivation and violence.
This inequality, often exacerbated by harmful social norms, leaves millions of women at the mercy of violence and abuse, with one-in-three women across the world experiencing physical or sexual violence. Millions remain in the shadows, denied a say in the decisions that affect their lives.
Christian Aid believes this has to change – for the sake of everyone; for the sake of women, men, girls, boys, communities and societies warped by such an extreme imbalance of power.
In Ethiopia Christian Aid partner HUNDEE works with both women and men in poor cattle-rearing Borena communities to challenge violence against women and harmful traditional practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), to bring about lasting change and ensure women can live in dignity and are treated with respect.
HUNDEE encourages men to get more involved with household tasks, including looking after their children, and consult their wives about the decisions that affect them.
They also provide the poorest women in pastoralist communities with livestock, raising their status within society, because when they have a cow they have a voice in community decision making, as well as a means to earn a living.
Loretta Minghella, Chief Executive of Christian Aid said: “We cannot end world poverty without addressing the fundamental issue of discrimination against women and girls. The unequal distribution of power and opportunities between the sexes is at the heart of poverty, and we are working with both men and women in communities around the world to bring about change. We are working with partners like HUNDEE to break down the barriers and root out the injustices that hold women back, and give them a chance to stand on their own two feet.”
You can help to change the lives of women in places like Ethiopia this Christian Aid Week by donating online at www.caweek.org calling 08080 006 006, or texting ‘WEEK’ to 70040 to give £5.