Addressing gender inequality isn’t something that can be handed down from the top — we must empower the people affected to create lasting change. Our charities know this. When they look at the issues facing women and girls, they understand the best way to solve this is to involve the entire community and give women what they need to enact their own version of change.
Here are six women who, with the right tools, resources and support, overcame obstacles for themselves, their families and their communities. This is the kind of work that will change the world.
The best way to support Rosemarie, Rozina, Martha, Agnes, Zainab, Hanna and more is to give to the Women & Girls Fund. It goes to leading, international charities that are centering the experiences of women and girls in their work and understand that they are the key to solving global challenges.
Here are the stories of these six remarkable women.
How this farmer is rebuilding after she lost everything
When Typhoon Haiyan hit her village of Barangay Pontoc in the Philippines, farmer Rosemarie was among those who lost everything.
Determined to rebuild, Rosemarie participated in a CARE project called Asenso sa Good Agriculture Package (aGAP). The project helps farmers work more sustainably and increase their incomes by diversifying their crops and creating more opportunities to access markets. Rosemarie also worked with CARE who provided financial management and business trainings to farmers severely affected by the typhoon.
Now, she is a small business owner with a brick-and-mortar shop selling seeds, tools and other farming supplies and helps train other farmers on how they can improve their businesses. Rosemarie has both diversified and increased her income and has been able to send her three children to college.
Six years post-typhoon, life has improved. “My life is getting better. I hope for the future. I am a farmer and I am proud!”
In her own words: “I stopped my own marriage”
Plan International USA
Rozina is a 19-year-old activist who works with Plan International to promote gender equality in Bangladesh. Here’s her story, in her own words.
“When I was 17, I stopped my own marriage. I am from a poor family. I knew I needed to stay in school and get a good education.
I was an active member of my local youth forum and joined weekly sessions where we discussed and learned about the negative effects of child marriage. I knew that child marriage was illegal. During the sessions, we also learned about changes that happen to our bodies as we enter our adolescent years. These sessions built my confidence and helped me to grow my voice.
I love supporting and tutoring girls like me so that they do well at school and are confident. But I don’t only stick to school subjects — I tell them what to expect when they start bleeding, and that this is normal.
Girls often don’t know that they have rights. When I told them that I had called the government hotline and prevented five child marriages, they were amazed. They realized that they too could be braver and have power.”
Meet Martha: She’s learned to rely on herself
A decade into their marriage, Martha’s husband died. Suddenly, Martha, 49, was on her own to run the couple’s cocoa farm and raise their five children, plus 10 more who are distant relatives or community children in need.
At first, Martha struggled. Cocoa farming in Ghana had become extremely challenging as trees aged, pests and diseases did their damage, and production fell short. The income was never enough. “It was sometimes financially draining paying for [the children’s] school supplies and for their health,” said Martha.
Then Martha met Grameen Community Agent Selasse and learned about Grameen’s Digital Farming program. Selasse used satellite imagery to assess the environmental conditions of Martha’s farm. Then, using a digital tool developed by Grameen and its partners, Selasse gathered financial, production and other data from Martha to create her custom Farm Development Plan.
Martha is confident it is the best roadmap to give her children a better future and to realize her own dreams, which include “building a house, being the best cocoa farmer in my region and expanding my cocoa farming business.”
Agnes’ lifesaving surgery
Agnes is a 25-year-old mother of four from Bukaala, a rural village in Uganda. She and her family live far from emergency medical services, so when she went into a complicated labor, Agnes had very few options. Tragically, her child did not survive, and she began to leak urine. Agnes lived with obstetric fistula for three long years. Ashamed of her constant odor, she withdrew from her community early on. “I have always been so stressed in my heart,” Agnes said. “When I had that problem, I was not able to do anything or go anywhere. I was always hiding.”
Thankfully, her suffering did not last forever. One day, Agnes was listening to the radio and heard that treatment was available at Kitovu Hospital, Fistula Foundation’s partner facility in Makasa, Uganda.
After years of suffering, Agnes finally received life-changing fistula surgery in October 2020. Her surgery was completely free of charge, thanks to compassionate donors like you!
“I can’t express how happy I am after having this procedure. My life is going to change so much from now on! I’ll be able to put on makeup again and go dancing!”
Zainab: Taking back her rights and her life
Women for Women International
For years, Zainab suffered her husband’s beatings and abuse. Growing up in Nigeria, she was taught a woman’s rights came from her husband. One in three women globally experience violence like Zainab, and in the countries where Women for Women International works, this rate is often much higher.
Through Women for Women International’s programming, women come together and learn about their fundamental human rights, often for the first time. With the power of this knowledge, they help them identify how to protect their rights and create more equal homes and communities.
Through their program, Zainab learned that her rights did not belong to her husband and was inspired by the support of other women in her class. She decided she would not tolerate his abuse any longer. The next time he tried to hit her, she refused to apologize and stood up for her rights. Neighbors who overheard what was happening joined her side. Since that day, Zainab says her husband has never disrespected or raised his hand against her.
Hanna Chuang launches program to battle illiteracy in Bhutan
USA Girls Scouts Overseas
Hannah Chuang, 2016 National Young Woman of Distinction with USA Girl Scouts Overseas, is a true global citizen. So, when a friend told her about high rates of illiteracy among women and children in Bhutan, she sprang into action. See how Hanna started a service club at school and worked with rural villages to create community centers offering a wide range of services, from library and computer access to English lessons and daycare services.
Each year, Girl Scouts of the USA honors 10 Girl Scouts as National Young Women of Distinction, selected from the thousands of exceptional young women in grades 9–12 who earn their Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.
Want to empower more women around the world? Here are our recommendations:
- Give to the Women & Girls Fund. One donation goes to multiple charities, so your dollar has the biggest impact.
- Watch the recording of our event, Embrace Global Equity for Women and Girls. It offers great ideas on how you can take action and features some of the charities discussed in this blog!
- Bring this content to your workplace. On our Employee Giving Hub, we have an entire Women & Girls Cause Kit that you can use to highlight the obstacles women face here at home and around the world. Use this to prompt conversations with colleagues and bolster giving to this cause across your organization.