Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, designated to raise awareness of the abuse, oppression and suffering endured by millions of women worldwide.
Sadly there are many parts of the world where women are still second class citizens – where child brides, sexual exploitation and domestic abuse are common place. According to the UN, 35% of women and girls worldwide experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime, rising to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.
Renewable World dedicates a large part of its resources to empowering women and girls where we work in Nepal, Kenya, Bangladesh and Nicaragua.
Our Trustee Sarah has just returned from a visit to our comic relief sponsored project beside Lake Victoria, where she was shocked by the hardship faced by women on a daily basis. Her vivid account brought tears to my eyes and demonstrates why the fight to protect and empower women is so important.
“I met women who are beaten every day by their husbands for asking for money for food. They are brought up to believe that if your husband doesn’t hit you he doesn’t love you.
I met women who have to sell fish their husbands have caught. But the tradesmen buying the fish know they will rot after 4-5 hours in the heat. So they toy with the women as the price of their fish decreases while the clock ticks, eventually agreeing only to buy them from the women who will grant them sexual favours.
I met women who have to walk four kilometres to fetch a can of water eight times a day. Some of these women have to send their daughters alone after school instead, where they are often abused by men from other villages.
I met families who all drink and bath in the same lake water they defecate in. They know it is wrong but only a few can afford to buy chlorine to treat the water. Cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea are rife.
Every woman we met had blood red swollen eyes and painful lungs from cooking five hours a day with toxic kerosene.
But in every community, no matter how little they had, we were welcomed with exceptional hospitality and a huge sense of hope”.
It is hard to imagine facing such pain and violence on a daily basis but millions of women do. However, change is possible.
If the women Sarah met could preserve their fish through freezing, they could end the tradesmen’s exploitation. If they had a clean water supply they could avoid disease. If they had clean energy to cook with they could escape premature death from pulmonary heart disease, lung disease and stroke. If they had enough water to irrigate crops they could generate income through agriculture.
These things are all possible. In fact they are happening. Renewable World is working in the communities Sarah visited, to install solar-wind hybrid systems to power ice boxes, solar lamps, irrigation pumps and water purifying systems.
Our enterprise training workshops are equipping women with the skills, knowledge and confidence to start their own businesses and take control of their lives.
In Luanda Rumbo, a community on the banks of Lake Victoria who we have been working with for over a year now, two newly formed women’s groups are thriving, with annual crop yield up 400% – and this is only the beginning.
By changing the role of women in these impoverished communities we are changing their futures and the futures of their children, ending the desperate cycle of poverty.
If you want to give women the power to change their lives then please make a donation to fund our life changing work.
£30 can provide solar power for a fish chiller for 65 days enabling a ladies fishing cooperative to take control, cease being exploited and increase their income by 35% in one year
£10 can enable us to provide power from a wind turbine to irrigate an acre of land for 60 days, doubling household income for the desperately poor
£5 helps us install a hydram pumping 30,000 litres of clean water and eliminating 3 cases of Typhoid
You can donate via text by texting: POWR34 £(any amount) to 70070 or click donate online here.
To read more about our work please visit www.renewable-world.org
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