This is a guest post from ActionAid. I have not received payment for this post
Women in developing countries face many challenges – low social status, poverty, and little to no formal education to name a few. Even today, women in those countries do not enjoy the rights that we take for granted. Charities like ActionAid aim not only to give them a voice, but also to let them take charge of their lives.
Fighting sexual violence
The difference in physical power between men and women, traditional cultural roles and sometimes legislation make women vulnerable to sexual violence. Women often find it hard to resist unwanted sexual demands, to demand protected sex in order to protect themselves from HIV infections and to fight traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation.
To address these issues, ActionAid provides safe and supportive forums for girls to discuss sensitive issues such as instances of violence that are committed against them. The organisation also fights legislation that further victimises the victim of sexual assault, such as the Hudood Ordinance in Pakistan. ActionAid also makes religious and traditional leaders aware of the dangers of practising Female Genital Mutilation.
The right to an education
Around 517 million women around the world are illiterate. As a result, they are often confined to low-skill and low-paying jobs and are denied the ability and the right to demand a better life. Families often do not consider sending daughters to school a worthy investment, as the quality of the education is often poor, or their daughters will soon be married off.
ActionAid realises that the quality of education is the first step in raising the education level among women, and is constantly working with locals to make sure governments are adequately managing the quality of education in terms of the qualifications of the teachers and the amount of resources dedicated to the education system.
Representation in the public sphere
Women are often excluded from the decision making process – whether at the household level or at the community level. In some communities, women simply assume that men will not permit them to participate in community activities which are beyond their domestic and reproductive duties. The need for women to be included in any decision-making process is particularly important, because current policies often neglect their rights and needs.
ActionAid has made recommendations to relevant governments and organisations to dedicate resources to build capacity for local women to be involved in decision making processes. The organisation has also helped communities to strengthen their local governance structure to increase women’s participation in leadership.
What you can do to help
ActionAid runs a number of campaigns and appeals year round that address the needs and rights of women. Whether you want to learn more or volunteer your time, there are a number of ways that you can help the important causes and the rights of women they champion. You can also sponsor a child to make sure they have the resources to learn and succeed – remember, every dollar makes a difference.
Author bio: Alex Smith is a freelance writer and women’s rights activist who believes that everyone can make a difference to women’s rights around the world – whether they sponsor a child or make a small one-off donation.