This is Judi, from Kenya.
When she was 15, her father tried to force her to marry an older man. Her future suddenly looked very bleak. No secondary education, no career and little hope of earning her own money.
But Judi’s stepmother wanted a different life for her so they left and headed for the Umoja community of women. Judi stayed on at school and learnt to speak English. Now aged 21 years she works in the museum within her community teaching about the Samburu people, using her language skills to talk with the tourists who come to stay .
Judi is a success story, she has a strong stepmother who stood up for her and fought for her. We all need someone like that in our lives and in fact we can all be that woman (or man). I've never met Judi and as much as I'd like to chances are I never will but I can fight for her. I can speak up about injustice and I can spread awareness and lobby for change. I am that strong woman.
Strong women the world over make a massive difference; research has proved this time and time again. When you educate and empower women and girls, communities start to change. Here is an extract taken from the latest campaign from ONE.org.
Unlocking the full potential of girls and women wouldn't just transform their lives or their families' - it could help end extreme poverty. Because when women rise out of poverty, they take other people with them too.
The fight for equality is already on. In developing countries, girls and women are breaking down barriers and achieving extraordinary things.Your voice can help them win the fight faster.My voice, your voice, all our voices. I've said it before and I'll say it again we are in this together and we all have a responsibility. It hardly takes any time to sign a petition, share on social media, send an email or even meet your MP and chat to your friends like I do.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chair of the African Unions Commission (AUC) are both hosting important summits this summer with women at the heart of the agenda. Then later in July the UN will host a financing summit ready for the September Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York City. This one is the biggie and is where we get to see what world leaders are committing to over the next 15 years and if realistically the goal of ending poverty by the year 2030 can in fact come to fruition. I'm praying already.
I'm sure some of you reading this think I'm just blowing this out of context, that poverty is poverty and surely it can't be sexist. Well let me demonstrate -
- In France, 97% of women have a bank account – in Chad, less than 7% of women do, that is nearly 40% fewer than men.
- In the least development countries (LDCs), on average, the rate of literacy among women is only two-thirds (68.5%) the rate of men. In non-LDCs, the gender gap remains, but to a lesser degree: women’s rates are on average 94.8% those of men’s.
- In developing countries 39,000 girls become child brides every day
and actually it is a double disadvantage, as not only are all people having a much harder time in the developing countries but then the females are treated worse from a legal, financial and social standpoint too.
The situation of our world right now is very sad. It is broken and injustice prevails but we can make a difference. Everyday people are making a difference the world over, when I was in Ethiopia I met them, when I was in Belarus I met them, when I was in America I met them and every day in the UK I meet them as I work with the Food Bank, volunteer at Ashburnham Place and give my time to virtually campaign for various charities.
PLEASE, PLEASE TAKE A FEW MOMENTS -
1. Sign and share ONE's petition calling on world leaders to put girls and women at the heart of the development agenda.
2. Read and then share ONE's open letter, signed by more than 35 high-profile women including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Meryl Streep.
And if you want to read more, then there is a fabulous report that ONE have just released, appropriately titled Poverty is Sexist, you can read/download it here and the ONE blog both here and in the US is always filled with excellent articles that are easy to read but will make you think.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this and more importantly signing and share ONE's petition.
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