Tuesday 8 March 2016

I'll Raise My Voice for You #PovertyisSexist #PledgeForParity

....and you .... and you.  Yes I'll raise my voice for all women and girls the world over and that is not because I'm a staunch feminist, it is because it is the right thing to do, whether you are male or female.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. 
(Proverbs 31:8–9 NIV) 
Image Credit: Karen Walrond for ONE

Look at these girls above, they are all aged between 10 - 15 and are part of the Bright Future project in the Merkato slums in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. I wrote about them back in 2012 when I visited Ethiopia with ONE to see the living proof that international aid really does work.

They are a beautiful group of girls, so full of life and hope but each one of them had a devastating story to tell us of how they came to be a part of this project - slave labour, gender based violence, sent away by their parents to earn for the family but it hadn't worked out and deaths of parents to preventable diseases and HIV/ Aids. They were so excited to hear that the group of western women who had visited them would go away and share their stories and people across the world would know what was happening to girls and women in Ethiopia.

We all know there are both men and women the world over who are passed by, shoved aside and not given the respect or dignity they deserve but the statistics tell us that women and girls fare far worse than their male counterparts in all parts of the world, especially where poverty is at its most evident.

Last year I wrote about the #PovertyisSexist report launched by ONE, this demonstrated two truths:
  1. Poverty and gender inequality go hand-in-hand. In 2016 half a billion women still cannot read, 62 million girls are denied an education and 155 countries still have laws that differentiate between men and women. 
  2. Yet, ironically perhaps, it is widely accepted that investing in girls and women lifts everyone out of poverty more quickly. So it really does seem like a no-brainer, doesn't it?  Ensure women and girls in the world poorest countries receive investment and the countries start to lift themselves out of devastation. 
I look at that graphic there on the left and if I'm honest it makes my stomach churn. How can it be that in 2016 there is nowhere on earth where women have as many opportunities as men? Gender parity is of course the focus of International Women's Day today, but we are not fighting for a world where women are treated better or differently from men, just one where we are given equal opportunity and judged on our merits rather than our ability to have children or our body parts.

Furthering the cause to ensure that men and women are equals is of course a good thing but I am fearful that many people only consider the issues affecting those of us in the developed world. Like the glass ceiling on the corporate arena or the lack of female political leaders.

There are girls and women in the poorest countries that cannot go to school, own land, speak in front of a group or men or give birth with dignity as they are denied these rights purely because they are a woman. It's an outrage, right?

As I was reading the new 2016 Poverty is Sexist report from ONE, I came across the following statement and this hit me so powerfully -
If you care about gender equity here, care about it everywhere.
It's simple. It's time we all looked outside of our own lives and offered some help to those who need it most.

How to get involved

1. Sign the petition and urge world leaders to put girls and women in developing countries at the top of their agenda. It takes just seconds - http://bit.ly/1Qz7kdy

2. Share the petition on any of your social media channels. After you sign, there are very easy share buttons that you can press and help spread the word.

Of course there is loads more you can do if you want to. Go ahead and write a blog to encourage others to share, meet your local MP, talk to your friends, host a coffee morning, inform the students at your school during assembly, give a presentation at the local W.I. meeting. Whatever works for you, just don't let all the voiceless girls and women go on being unheard. They all have powerful stories and we need to stand with them.

And if you want more information then read the open letter to our world leaders and also the full Poverty is Sexist report which is just launched today - You can find them here.

Thanks for any help you can give. With blessings, Mich x

I'm linking this post up with Lucy over at Lulastic and the Hippyshake for her International Women's Day 2016 blog linkup. Hop over and have a read of the many varied and inspirational blog posts there.

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