Three Ways You Can Help Women This International Women's Day
Happy International Women's Day to all who identify as women from us at SLV.Global! This day is particularly important to us, as the majority of our team are women and most of our volunteers too. We've come a long way, and even celebrated it being 100 years since some women got the vote this year! However, we've still got a way to go, especially in some developing countries where women are still seen as a burden and given far less opportunities than men.
Here are a few things that we can do as women, and allies of women, to help make things a little easier for those of us who could use a helping hand.
1. Help Ease Period Pain
We're not talking cramps here, but the pain of having your period and not having the necessary sanitary products needed to simply be able to carry on with your day. This UNESCO report estimates that one in ten girls misses school during their period in Sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of access to pads, tampons and menstrual cups causes girls to miss our on their education and this should not be the case.
How about closer to home? Sure thing! Organisations like the Trussell Trust, will happily take sanitary product donations at your local food bank. Or in the USA you can look into I Support the Girls, where you can donate not only hygiene products, but bras too.
2. Education for the Nation
According to UNESCO, "less than 40% of countries provide girls and boys with equal access to education. Only 39% of countries have equal proportions of boys and girls enrolled in secondary education." This is simply not good enough. Being born a girl should not be a barrier to education.
So what can you do? See point one, as missing school due to menstruation contributes to this issue. Also consider supporting an organisation like Girl Rising whose main aim is to ensure girls get to be "full and equal parts of society."
If you're unable to support financially, how about tutoring a neighbour or a friend's sister? This is hugely valuable, as you will act as a role model, in addition to providing education support. This is especially necessary in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects where there is a pronounced shortage of female professionals globally. According to the World Bank, "In 2013, only four countries in Europe could claim to have at least 15 percent of all STEM graduates be female." We can change this, but we need to share our skills and support each other.
3. Be Actively Inclusive
I know all of us would like to think we're super woke and inclusive but, the reality is, most of us could do better. As women we are subjected to oppressive practices like the wage gap, and have to contend with the government trying to regulate our bodies on a consistent basis. However, we have to also recognise that the degrees to which these issues affect us will depend on other extenuating factors like race and socioeconomic status. For example, although a white woman will statistically make about 77 cents to a man's dollar in the USA, black and latinx women are likely to make just 55 - 60 cents for the same work while the trans community faces double the rate of unemployment compared to those who identify as cis gendered.
So what can you do? Firstly, just be aware that, although also women, your sisters may be having a totally different, and even more difficult lived experience than you. Always be open to listening and being compassionate about someone else's circumstances. It's not an oppression contest, but acknowledging that there is a system, and that to some degree we are all part of it, is the first step to helping dismantle it.
Is your course or your workplace homogenous? Try and find out why that is and if there's anything that can be done about it. We should all be making a conscious effort to be as inclusive as possible. The more variety of seats at the table, the better for all of us.