SCIAF is promoting gender equality and access to education
The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) will join thousands of people across the globe to mark International Women’s Day, promoting the importance of gender equality and the role access to education and the formal job market for women plays in reducing the gender divide and poverty.
Despite their essential role in the economy, many women are still missing out on an education and two thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women. Women account for almost two thirds (70%) of all those living in absolute poverty and make up the majority (80%) of all refugees and displaced people.
SCIAF works in some of the world’s poorest countries and its Lent appeal this year focuses on the plight of a generation of young women and children with disabilities in South Sudan, the world’s newest country and one of the very poorest. Life remains tough in South Sudan. The conflict has left behind a legacy of fear, displacement and despair. The onset of the coronavirus has now intensified the scale of poverty and hunger.
Malia is six years old and until recently she was unable to move without assistance due to excess fluid in her brain. She needed surgery and thanks to a SCIAF funded project, she received medical care and is now able to walk and attend school like other children her age.
Her mother, Rina, is an example of the courage and resilience of women across the globe who are fighting adversities to build a better life for themselves and their families.
For years, Rina carried her daughter everywhere. When the fighting escalated, she gathered her young children and fled to safety in the forest, with Malia strapped to her back.
She said: “I was alone with my children. There was nothing to eat and we were cold, wet and hungry. We survived on wild fruits and leaves and sometimes went without food for days.”
When they were too tired, they would rest until they had to move again.
Rina said: “It was tough. I would carry Malia around on my back. She couldn’t even sit up. Things are much better now and I am very grateful for all the help we have received.”
Alistair Dutton, SCIAF director, said: “Every day, millions of women around the world are denied crucial life chances due to discrimination and systematic pressures that prevent them from living the healthy, happy lives everyone deserves.
“Poverty, war and economic shocks from crises such as the coronavirus create additional barriers for women, depriving them of an education and pushing them further into poverty. However, dealing with the issue of gender divide and the impact of discrimination against women has huge advantages, not just for women themselves but for society as a whole.
“Better educated women are healthier, are able to form part of the formal employment market, earn more and can help to lift households, communities and their countries out of poverty. It’s about time communities and world leaders realised this and moved towards concerted efforts to break down the unnecessary barriers that hold women back.”
Money raised from SCIAF’s appeal this year will help provide a lifeline to people struggling to survive and give women like Rina the support they need to earn a living, feed their families and to work themselves out of poverty. As part of UK aid match, this year’s appeal also benefits from match funding which means all donations given to SCIAF’s WEE BOX, BIG CHANGE appeal before 11 May will be doubled by the UK government and will go twice as far