Much progress has been made for women's rights. However, from Iran and Afghanistan, the United States, and around the world, the fight for women's rights continues.
The persistence of protests and women's movements shows that we’re not backing down! In this blog, we celebrate some key achievements of women around the world and understand how much further we have to go...
Women take the lead on the football field
2022 was also the most watched Women’s EURO ever, with a projected global live viewership of 365m, across 195 territories, smashing the 2017 viewership of 50m. The event inspired women and girls to strap on their boots and prove that they can kick out the competition as well as men.
VSO has also been making a name for itself on the football pitch! In partnership with Tackle, we have utilised the power of football to teach prison inmates about sexual and reproductive health rights in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. As a result, high proportions of inmates demostrated very positive attitudes around preventing violence against women.
Ensuring education for all in Kenya
Regardless of gender or ability, VSO believes that all children have the right to an education. This is why our education projects develop and strengthen inclusive education systems that leave no child behind. We are working to keep children in school and challenge harmful cultural norms that can prevent young people from completing their education. Jane was forced to drop out of school at age 14 after she got pregnant. Thanks to the Education for Life project, she now attends maths and English classes at a VSO catch-up centre.
Shattering the glass ceiling in Pakistan
2022 marked a significant year for women in Pakistan, with 55-year-old Mrs. Justice Ayesha Malik being appointed the first female Pakistani judge in the Supreme Court in the 75 years since the country's independence.
Our education projects in Pakistan are ensuring that all girls are allowed to prosper and shatter class ceilings of their own! In 2022, devastating floods took place in Pakistan, costing over $14.9 billion in damages. Since then VSO has established six weather-resistant, Transitional Learning Centres to ensure children can continue to learn in a safe environment. We have supporting education departments to provide safe learning environments for all children, with a focus on girls and children with disabilities who are most at risk.
Fighting the fight for disabled rights in Rwanda
Did you know that Rwanda is ranked number one in the world for gender equality? The proportion of government officials who are women stands at 61.25% today, way above the current global average of 26.4%.
However, activists from the National Union of Disability Organisations of Rwanda (NUDOR) have called for inclusivity of people living with disability, especially women, in fighting against GBV. Women with disabilities are at higher risk of intimate partner violence than women without disabilities.
The Imbere Heza or ‘Futures Bright’ project in Rwanda is ensuring deaf youth in Rwanda have equal access to health services and can access the support they need. Inspirational women, like VSO Award winner Brown Niyonsaba, are training community health workers in sign language and supporting Deaf youth to understand their rights.
Engaging men to benefit us all
Despite gaining global attention during the COVID-19 pandemic and international lockdowns, the shadow pandemic of GBV continues. New research shows that as many as 45,000 women and girls worldwide were killed by intimate partners or family members in 2021 alone.
Challenging this cannot fall to women alone. We need male allies, to understand the everyday issues and threats that women are facing, starting in their own homes. That’s why VSO’s male engagement programmes in Sierra Leone, Nepal and Zimbabwe are helping to break down these boundaries by recruiting men to advocate within their communities for women’s rights.
These centre around our male advocates and peer health educators, who are members of the community and have volunteered to learn about and spread awareness on a range of issues including, sexual violence, GBV, rape, female genital mutilation, sexual and reproductive health, child marriage, and child abuse.
So much progress has been made for gender equity, and everyone must keep working to ensure that we continue to move forward.
Meet 14 year old Mphatso who dropped out of school without the ability to read or write. He was sat in class with 200 other students unable to learn, so what was the point of attending school? Educational tablets are now giving Mphasto the education he deserves.
Tanzania is home to a vast array of minerals and natural resources. Gold in particular accounts for more than two-thirds of the country’s exports. Despite this, many women and young people are often excluded and are unable to profit from the extractive industries.
From Kenya to Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, meet the volunteer igniting change across the world
Vilma Esoto is a remarkable national volunteer working hard in the Philippines, where she ensures that out-of-school youth get the relevant mentorship and leadership skills they deserve to achieve a prosperous future.