10 Ways to Make a Difference on International Women’s Day (with Tips from GVI)


How are you observing International Women’s Day? I get to go hear Cherie Blair speak. She’s the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a leading lawyer and committed campaigner for women¡¯s rights and the founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which supports women entrepreneurs in developing countries. You can count on the fact that I’ll be live tweeting and blogging about what she has to say right here on The Culture Mom. 

Having just come from the Shot at Life conference, I am more inspired than ever to make a difference in the world and help disadvantaged people in far away parts of the world. International Women’s Day is the perfect time to continue the dialogue aboutinequality in the workplace, pay gaps, stereotypes in the media and female empowerment. For women in further flung corners of the globe, the issues run much deeper as they face serious health issues, illiteracy and discrimination.  I’ll be writing about the conference next and tell you how you can help children around the world, but I got the following tips from Global Vison International (GVI) on how to get involved in the lives of disadvantaged women around the world and had to share:

1)                  Help women in India learn English

As a fluent English speaker, volunteers have the ability to impart their knowledge to women in India, teaching them the English language and opening up a world of job opportunities that require this skill. English is such a sought-after language that many jobs insist on it and for women who never had the chance to learn at school, this is a tool that is invaluable to them.

2)                  Educate young women in Fiji about sexual health

There are some lessons we learn from our mothers but in places where sexual health is taboo, the most basic information from periods to pregnancy is unknown and misunderstood. Even for those who have been through it. By assisting with sexual health classes volunteers can help give young women more control and understanding over their own bodies.

3)                  Help build real toilet facilities within high-schools in Nepal

There can’t be a woman who doesn’t remember the awkwardness of puberty but in some areas of Nepal, girls are attending schools at which there are no proper toilets. Appalling amenities and a lack of privacy can lead to teenage girls quitting school when they reach a certain age due to embarrassment. By assisting professional builders to install brand new facilities in schools, volunteers are offering a practical and simple step that will help more young women receive an education.

4)                  Impart your business skills and work experience on women in South Africa

No matter the level of business knowledge, if travellers know how to use a computer then they can work with women in South Africa teaching them the basics of business. In doing so, local women can turn their talents into micro-businesses and money-making opportunities that can last a lifetime. 

5)                  Teach ‘hard skills’ to women to make them more employable

The ability to make your own clothes is still invaluable to many women in disadvantaged countries, and by giving them such hard skills GVI volunteers are widening their employment opportunities as well as providing options for opening their own business. For many women who think their only option is being a mother and wife, learning such a skill opens doors they never thought possible. 

6)                  Introduce women in Fiji to the basics of wellness

For many women in places like Fiji, there is limited knowledge on the importance of nutrition and exercise. Why not help educate women on how to ensure a balanced diet and get them out moving while teaching them about healthy body image. Volunteers will run casual aerobics classes and teach them how to cook basic healthy recipes.

7)                  Start the conversation about equality

By helping run Conversation Clubs GVI volunteers can help get a discussion going with both boys and girls about breaking down stereotypes of gender. Let them see that females can play sport, work outside the home and be an equal part of society and subsequently invest in the future of women in these countries.

8)                  Educate women on pregnancy and children

Pregnancy and bearing children becomes a more dangerous venture than it needs to be when women don’t have all the facts and options to hand. By providing insight into how people fall pregnant (or prevent themselves falling pregnant), how to take care of themselves through all stages of the pregnancy as well as post-natal care travellers can help improve family health and reduce infant and child mortality rates.

9)                  Build women’s self-esteem in India and help out in a self-defence class

Sometimes something as simple as joining together with other young women and girls and talking about issues they are facing can work towards building someone’s self-esteem. Focusing on the positives, strength, inner beauty and intelligence will have a positive effect. In a more practical step, being involved in self-defence classes for women can help build their confidence and give them skills to cope in difficult situations.

10)              Be a positive role model as an independent woman who works, travels and makes her own choices

Sometimes by just bringing stories and positivity from your own world, no matter how far-removed  from their own lives they may be, it provides a window to these women that there are females around the world who have careers, who are mothers, who make money and stand equally with their male counterparts. It may be a long path for them to achieve the same level of equality but the first step is them believing they deserve it.

Global Vision International (GVI) was formed in 1997 to provide support and services to international charities, NGO’s and governmental agencies. Through their international network of over 150 personnel in 13 countries, GVI continues to support many critical conservation and humanitarian projects around the globe.

GVI is a non-political, non-religious organisation, which through its alliance with aid-reliant organisations throughout the world provides opportunities to volunteers to fill a critical void in the fields of environmental research, conservation, education and community development. To date over 24,000 volunteers have joined projects resulting in the direct financial support of over £20,000,000 / US $32,000,000.

GVI run a Women’s Empowerment Programme in Nepal, India, Fiji and South Africa from between two to 12 weeks starting at £850. More information here.

 Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post. I fervently believe in the mission of GVI.

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