On this particular international day, which is that of women, and the plural has its importance, it seemed important to us to indicate our willingness to commit ourselves and our commitment to the respect of women’s rights. But also towards gender equality, especially within NGOs.
There is still so much to do…
In many sectors such as education, health, work, family, women are still victims of inequalities compared to men. A few figures can attest to this.
According to UNICEF:
- More than 110 millions infants around the world, two thirds of whom are girls, are not in school.
- Of the 875 million illiterate adults in the world, two thirds are women.
- Half of the girls living in developing countries (except China) will be married by the age of 20.
- At least one in three women has experienced some form of gender-based violence, most often inflicted by a family member. [1999 Johns Hopkins World Report]
- Girls aged 13 to 18 are the most represented in the sex industry. Nearly 500,000 girls under the age of 18 are trafficked each year.
- Female genital mutilation affects 130 million girls and women worldwide and puts 2 million of them at risk each year. The prevalence of these practices has remained high (over 90 per cent) in many countries over the past decade, with little progress being made.
- 1,400 women die every day from pregnancy-related causes, 99 per cent of them in developing countries. Lack of prevention, access to care, support, beliefs and cultures are some of the causes.
According to the figures of UN WOMEN:
- Women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend some 40 billion hours a year collecting water. Every week, women in Guinea spend 5.7 hours collecting water, compared to 2.3 hours for men; in Sierra Leone, women spend 7.3 hours collecting water, compared to 4.5 hours for men; and in Malawi, this figure rises to 9.1 hours compared to 1.1 hours for men. This time spent collecting water reduces their opportunity to get a job.
- In Pakistan, every half kilometre from home to school reduces girls’ enrollment by 20%. In Egypt, Indonesia and several African countries, the construction of local schools in rural communities has increased girls’ enrollment.
- In peace processes between 1992 and 2011, women accounted for only
– 2% of chief mediators
– 4% of witnesses and signatories
– 9% of negotiators.
- Women are also less likely to move into senior positions in any part of the world.
All these figures, and many others, are there to remind us that girls and women, simply because they are considered as such, are still victims of injustice today.
- Data from 25 developed and developing countries indicate that countries with higher female parliamentary representation are more likely to establish a system of protection for certain areas.
- Each additional year spent in primary school allows girls to increase their future salaries by 10 to 20%. Education also encourages them to marry later and have fewer children, and makes them less vulnerable to violence.
We believe in progress and want to be its actors
International Impact is marked by a willingness to act on several fronts: health, education, culture… The promotion of women, their access to a decent standard of living and quality of life, and the increase in their career opportunities are more than important to us so that women cease to be relegated to the status of victims and not treated unequally because of their gender.
We believe in progress and this day is an opportunity for us to highlight the women (and men) who are advancing, some of them alongside us, the voluntary sector and commit themselves on a daily basis to projects in which we believe.
Paola PINZA, Ecuadorian, director of the Ecuasol Foundation since 2015, is one of the examples we would like to highlight. She is the diplomatic, fervent and benevolent director of this foundation, which has been in existence for nearly 17 years. She is committed to the daily education, nutrition and well-being of children in the North Quito neighbourhoods with constant enthusiasm.
Runa Khan, Bangladeshi, founder and director of Friendship is another. Marked by a desire for multidimensionality in order to ensure sustainable development, this NGO acts in particular on health or education in Bangladesh. Among other things, his NGO has developed a system of mobile clinics by boat, sailing from float to float (ephemeral islands vulnerable to flooding) and providing free care to 30 to 40,000 people every year. Undoubtedly committed, emphatic and innovative, Runa Khan is a model of success that must not be overlooked.
Pierre Foldès, a French urologist and surgeon, has developed a surgical technique to repair the damage caused by FGC. It is after a mission in Burkina Faso with Médecins Sans Frontières that he developed his technique. Marked by the desire to make his method accessible to as many people as possible, he consulted free of charge and succeeded in obtaining in 2004 the coverage by the health insurance of this type of intervention in the context of sexual mutilation.
At the international level, parity, equality and collaboration between the two sexes are also at the heart of our concerns. Like the volunteer and engagement sector, two thirds of our board of directors is composed of women, women aged 20 to 80.
We pay homage to and support magnificent initiatives:
– the NGO Cameleon, in the Philippines, which aspires to a world without sexual violence.
– The Women’s Foundation, whose president was involved in the NGO Blue Energy in Nicaragua. The foundation acts for equality between women and men
– The Alliance of Lawyers for Human Rights, which fights against excision in Africa
All these examples are there to remind us that gender equality and respect for women’s rights are everyone’s business.
However, gender equality and respect for women’s rights should not be a one-day affair. Let us not forget that they must be promoted and defended on a daily basis. If a day is dedicated to women today, it is precisely because mobilization is still necessary, a collective mobilization.
Original text by Emilie Beugnot, former Civic Service of International Impact.
Amended on 8 March 2021.