Gender Equality in ScandinaviaWomen’s rights are at the forefront of human rights, including their financial, emotional, physical and work rights. The practices seen in Norway and Iceland act as a great example of gender equality in Scandinavia.

The Impressionable Statistics in Scandinavia

Gender equality in Scandinavian countries Norway and Iceland are examples of progressive gender equality in action. Both countries have been voted as the happiest places in the world and this is in part due to their attitude to gender equality. The World Happiness Report states that Norway and Iceland have the ‘six key indicators’ to an abundant lifestyle — GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and corruption.

Norway and Iceland see women as a factor that is beneficial to their society. Although the pay gap has lessened over the past decade, women still earn less than men — even in countries like Iceland & Norway. In 2023, the World Economic Forum stated that Iceland had closed more than 90% of the gender pay gap.

Social Support in Iceland and Norway

Women in Scandinavia are considered not only a part of the makeup of Iceland and Norway but are a fundamental part of the country’s workforce.

Iceland is voted number one for gender equality in the world. 66% of graduates are women and 30 of 62 parliamentary seats are held by women. 80% of women in Iceland are a part of the workforce and 50% of the attendees of the GMAT business school entrance exam are women. 

The World Economic Forum states that Norway’s ”Fostering and developing of female talent has the potential to accelerate the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide.”

Healthy Life Expectancy in Norway

Much work goes into researching women’s livelihoods and what can improve them. Norway’s ‘Women’s Public Health Association’ is an example of betterment for women, as they focus on housing women for domestic violence recovery and women’s overall health.

The Women’s Public Health Association states: “We are equally committed to contributing to research on women’s health working on behalf of women who have been exposed to violence and minority women and more generally, to improving women’s rights in society.”

Freedom in Norway & Iceland 

Scandinavian countries like Norway and Iceland say that “their social contracts thrive because their community is strong.’ This community is made up of citizens, residents and visitors. Focus on gender equality in Scandinavia encourages freedom for all, as women’s rights are extended to immigrants.

Anthropologist Thomas Hylland-Eriksen states “What may be peculiar about the Nordic way of dealing with immigrants is the great emphasis placed on equality, including gender equality.” Minorities are considered a part of the fundamental system that makes up Nordic countries.

Furthermore, Iceland holds the Gender Equality Act, last updated in 2021, its main aims are to: prevent discrimination based on gender, as well as maintain gender equality and equal opportunities for the genders in all spheres of society. This means that it is by law unadvised to discriminate in the workplace.

What Is the Takeaway?

Gender equality is at the heart of human rights and United Nations values. Gender-based discrimination is prohibited under almost every human rights treaty. Yet globally, millions of women and girls continue to experience discrimination and violence — being denied their equality, dignity, autonomy and even life.

These influences and examples of equality allow for the gender gap to be discussed in the future. It will take almost 140 years for women to stand equal with men globally. However, gender equality in Scandinavia serves as inspiring progress. The female rights and attitude towards gender is a great example of a nation wanting to move forward on equal footing. 

– Anastasia Brown
Photo: Flickr

Gender Equality in IndiaWhile gender inequality is detrimental to every gender, it is typically women and girls in particular who are the most disadvantaged. With the introduction of the Women’s Reservation Bill, women in India are receiving an opportunity to have greater representation in parliament. This bill, which has now become law, shows positive signs of significantly strengthening gender equality in India.

Everyday Life in India

As of June 2023, India held the title of the world’s most populous country, boasting approximately 1.4 billion people. Following its independence from the British Empire in 1947, India has emerged as one of the globe’s fastest-growing economies. This economic surge has facilitated significant strides in reducing poverty over recent decades. Notably, from 2011 to 2019, the number of citizens grappling with extreme poverty was cut in half. While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges, India remains on the trajectory of progress.

Similar to poverty, progress toward gender equality in India is visible with the country climbing eight places in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report of 2023. However, overall, in terms of gender equality, India ranks 127th out of 146 countries.

Gender Equality in India

Gender inequality is a widespread issue, not confined to India but prevalent in communities worldwide. It’s a global problem that shares ties with poverty. The United Nations (U.N.) recognized this, making gender equality one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. These goals aim to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” The challenge of gender inequality is a shared concern that demands collective efforts for a more equitable and sustainable future.

Achieving gender equality in India is a significant challenge that starts affecting individuals from birth. Unfortunately, India stands out as the only country where girls face a lower chance of survival at birth and encounter developmental disparities in childhood. To sustain its progress, it appears India needs to empower individuals of all genders, ensuring equal opportunities for prosperity. This inclusive approach is crucial for fostering a more equitable and progressive society.

Women’s Reservation Bill

In late September 2023, Indian legislators overwhelmingly approved the Women’s Reservation Bill with minimal dissent in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the lower and upper houses of the Indian Parliament, respectively. The bill advocates for a minimum of 33% representation of women in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative assemblies. If implemented, this would mark an approximate 10% increase in the current representation of women in the Lok Sabha.

The President of India, Droupadi Murmu, the second female president of India, has assented to the Women’s Reservation Bill. As such the bill has become law and shall be in place for a minimum of 15 years. The enactment of this law not only ensures that the women of today are given a voice and the opportunity to be empowered leaders in their own day-to-day lives but also ensures that future women maintain that same right. However, there is still further progress to be made with the bill only being effective in the Lok Sabha, the lower parliamentary house.

The Ripple Effect

India is not alone in taking this step toward gender equality, with 64 other countries also implementing similar legislation, one such country being Rwanda. In 2003, Rwanda included in its constitution an allocation of 30% of elected positions for women in parliament. Currently, this has evolved into women occupying 64% of all parliamentary seats and Rwanda emerging as a leading force in gender equality. Such quotas significantly empower women.

What’s Next?

Addressing gender equality is crucial for India’s overall progress. The recent passage of the bill marks a significant step forward. Similar to the positive changes observed in Rwanda, this move is expected to catalyze further strides toward gender equality in India. Without tackling these issues, the nation risks reaching a progression plateau. The bill’s enactment signals a commitment to fostering an environment where everyone, regardless of gender, can thrive.

Holly Coop
Photo: Unsplash

Gender EqualityWomen’s Pavilion is a community exhibition in Expo City, Dubai, which aims to showcase women’s contributions to humanity, particularly those who have not received the recognition that they deserve already. This ranges from the work of women who are incredibly well-known to the completely anonymous. The exhibition includes different floors with each one describing the heroic and selfless actions of women with accompanying photos and memorabilia. In this way, Women’s Pavilion is fighting for gender equality.

Visiting Women’s Pavilion

Even if it is not possible for one to physically visit the display, the website offers a virtual 360° tour of the showcase that allows people to witness the amazing displays from their own home. The exhibit includes photos and accompanying explanations ranging from Frida Kahlo to Kathy Matsui, a partner in MPower.

The opening of Women’s Pavilion’s exhibit portrays how women have been underrepresented. With this being the first section of the Pavilion, it highlights the fact that gender inequality does not start at a specific age, and even children will experience prejudice from a school age. 

The Aims of Women’s Pavilion

The main and most evident aim of Women’s Pavilion is to encourage young women to break down the barriers that are pre-existing stereotypes and allow them to live carelessly as their authentic selves. It also aims to deconstruct any misconceptions when it comes to women’s roles; both in a small community or a wider society including household duties and careers. However, Women’s Pavilion also acknowledges the men who have helped to make sure that these women are finally getting the recognition that they deserve as a thank you for using their privilege in order to share the deserved spotlight with the women they worked alongside. 

This is not the first time that Dubai has been vocal in its fight for women’s rights and gender equality. Women’s Pavilion shares stories of many women from Arab countries and Islam who have fought to make the world a cleaner and better place.

Highlighting Gender-Related Poverty

In the display, there is a moving excerpt that consists of a wall filled completely with women’s shoes. At first glance, it may simply look like a wall of shoes, but after looking closer, they will learn that despite the 75% decrease in poverty, more women live in poverty compared to men. This highlights the fact that although conditions are improving immensely, there are still improvements that need to occur to promote gender equality. 

There is also a moving dedication to applaud the women who played important parts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which again showcases the work of women whose selfless acts are going unnoticed. 

Women’s Pavilion is a perfect representation of all of the women throughout history who have gone completely unacknowledged for their skills or contributions to society. From world-famous artists to teachers and behind-the-scenes programmers, Women’s Pavilion appreciates and applauds every woman. 

– Ella Bushell
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in MonacoThe Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Women’s Rights in Monaco introduced the ‘App-Elles’ mobile application on September 21. This app aims to enhance personal security and combat domestic violence in the principality.

With one-third of its residents being millionaires and a lack of income tax, the principality does not track poverty rates. Economists state that due to the high wealth of Monaco’s residents, poverty is nonexistent. But that does not mean every citizen of Monaco is ultra-wealthy. Monaco, with a population of approximately 9,000 native Monégasques and limited housing options in its small 1-square-mile area, faces unique circumstances. The nonexistent poverty rates have led the government to prioritize social programs for the benefit of its residents.

The Committee for The Promotion and Protection of Women’s Rights

The Sovereign Order of Monaco created the Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Women’s Rights on October 25, 2018. The goal of this committee is to promote gender equality and combat all forms of violence against women. The Principality of Monaco and its Prince, Albert II, consider women’s rights an important issue. It is a core priority since Monaco accepted the United Nations and the Council of Europe’s conventions on women’s rights and protection. 

Female Abuse

The Committee for Women’s Rights in Monaco conducts an annual report with Monaco Statistics to track key data on the abuse of women in the principality. In January, the report’s findings showed that there was an increase in abuse against women. The number rose from 23 in 2021 to 33 in 2022 and approximately half were cases of physical abuse. While there hasn’t been a significant increase in the number of cases, this data aims to emphasize the importance of protecting women’s rights in Monaco. It underscores the need to take necessary measures to address and prevent domestic violence.

While the laws are helpful in criminalizing domestic violence within the courts, the Committee wanted a resource for victims and witnesses to use. The Committee partnered with the Resonantes Association to integrate “App-Elles” into Monaco’s emergency response network.


“App-Elles” was originally launched in 2015 to bring all of France’s resources and emergency contacts into one place for easy access. The app is currently available in 15 countries and has multiple languages available. This integration of the app into Monaco’s emergency landmark represents a significant step in Monaco’s commitment to protecting women’s rights and ensuring their safety within the principality. 

This app aims to help victims and witnesses of domestic violence call for assistance when they require it. The app gives users quick access to all of Monaco’s emergency contact numbers and resources. Additionally, the app can quickly alert trusted relatives and geolocate users during a crisis. 

Other services that the app provides include sound recordings starting from the moment the user triggers an SOS alarm. The recordings and geolocation tags are stored on a secure server for 15 days. If users want to keep these recordings, then they must download the files. These recordings are admissible as evidence in Monaco’s courts.

On September 26 and 27, the Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Women’s Rights in Monaco and the Resonantes Association conducted workshops to introduce the app to the residents and educate them on how to use the application to its full potential. 

Looking Ahead

“App-Elles” represents one of Monaco’s many initiatives in line with its commitment to advancing women’s rights and addressing violence against women. Monaco’s legal framework has been structured to criminalize acts of violence against women. The incorporation of “App-Elles” into Monaco’s emergency network offers crucial resources and evidence for individuals facing domestic violence during moments of crisis. Should this application prove effective in the coming years, it could serve as a model for other countries seeking to integrate similar tools into their emergency networks across Europe and, potentially, on a global scale.

– Komalpreet Kaur
Photo: Unsplash

Gender Nutrition Gap in NigeriaWith food insecurity worsening across the globe, there is an urgent need to address the ever-growing gender nutrition gap. The gender nutrition gap concerns the disparities in access to resources between women and men. Women do not have the same access to food and basic nutrition as men, leading to them being disproportionately affected by food insecurity and malnutrition. This inequality has not only resulted in women being more vulnerable to diseases and other health risks but has also impacted their education and opportunities due to these health risks. 

Factors Contributing to the Gender Nutrition Gap

In sub-Saharan Africa, women make up 40% of the agricultural labor force and yet are still more food insecure than men. Due to social and historical factors, women not only have to work as farmers, but they also have to take on duties within the household, such as childcare and household management. This reduces their productivity in farming compared to men, and in societies that are still heavily patriarchal, women are often left with very little or comparatively worse food than men, and they are thus unable to meet their health and nutrition needs. These patriarchal societies also lead to women having less control over resources and income, further hindering their ability to afford health services. 

Nigeria is Closing the Gender Nutrition Gap

Nigeria is progressing in closing the gender nutrition gap with the World Bank approving $500 million for the Nigeria for Women Program Scale Up (NFWP-SU), which is set to empower women and improve their livelihoods. The NFWP-SU builds on the existing Nigeria for Women Project (NFWP), which supports over 427,887 Women Affinity Group (WAG) members across six states and further benefits 835,573 community members through various developmental interventions. The scale-up will provide even more financial support to the government of Nigeria in helping empower women — by investing in better economic opportunities for women, women will have access to better health and nutrition outcomes, thus helping combat the disparity in food access for women and address their health needs.

With a third of Nigerian households being unable to afford a nutritious diet and putting women and their families at risk of malnutrition, improving economic outcomes for women will help improve their health and resilience. 

Vivianne Ihekweazu, Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch and one of the leaders of the NFWP-SU, has emphasized the importance of meeting the nutritional needs of women and girls to combat the pressing issue of malnutrition. She is working to empower women in Nigeria, and at the Women Deliver conference, she emphasized that Nigeria is focusing on five main areas to address the gender gap: 

  1. Supporting the Ministry of Health in optimizing the food supply chain by developing a national guideline.
  2. Advocating for more women to take on decision-making positions in the state and communities.
  3. Ensuring that women have equal access to and control over resources and production.
  4. Addressing how the inequality of women’s education can have adverse impacts on nutrition.
  5. Uplifting women’s positions in the workplace and empowering them by securing their workplace rights. 

Empowering Women and Improving Their Livelihoods

While food insecurity and malnutrition remain pressing issues for women in particular, these initiatives will enable Nigeria to take further steps in closing the gender gap, and, as a result, help women secure access to food and health services by providing economic security. With the current success of NFWP, the scale-up will certainly continue to address the issue of the gender nutrition gap, not only empowering women economically but also closing the gender disparity in access to food and nutrition.

– Stephanie Chan
Photo: Flickr

Makeup Brands Helping Women in PovertyOn average, more women across the world live below the poverty line than men, facing the same issues with poverty as men with an added layer of gender-based violence to further it. Recently, different beauty organizations have stepped in to help these women. Makeup brands helping women in poverty across the world are creating and working with organizations like Project Beauty Share and the L’Oréal Fund for Women. 

These brands not only provide women with money and resources but also help to protect women from domestic violence and other issues that women face. Many of these brands do this by setting up good education systems within developing countries which help to provide young women with the education they need to provide for themselves. 

Project Beauty Share 

Project Beauty Share is an organization that was founded in 2010 with the goal of helping women by donating previously owned, but unused, makeup products to women in poverty. It was founded by a makeup artist after discussing with a client how many makeup products she buys and never uses, giving her the idea to create an organization that donates these products to homeless women and women in poverty. 

Makeup empowers women because it is a form of self-expression. It allows women to express all sides of themselves and show their own uniqueness, something that many women who are struggling with poverty do not have the luxury of doing. Makeup can help people to feel prepared, empowering them as a result. 

Project Beauty Share is currently funded by over 100 agencies that are helping to support women across the world. Some of these companies and organizations are SMILE, Ronald McDonald House, The Salvation Army and more. Project Beauty Share is a great example of an organization that is independent of the makeup companies that are helping women in poverty, and helping these women instead of actually providing makeup to them. 

Makeup Brands Helping Women in Poverty

  • L’Oréal has set up the L’Oréal Fund for Women, a charity based on helping women who are in poverty to get back on their feet and preventing violence against women. The fund was started in 2020, hoping to empower women through education. Because of this, similar to what the brand Tatcha has done, L’Oréal has funded many charities and organizations that work to set up schools for women in developing countries. 
  • Tasha has set up schools to fund girls’ education in multiple countries, like Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos and more. The brand has done so continuously over the past six years, funding over five million days of schooling for girls across the world. 
  • Burt’s Bees is another brand that has given back to the women in the countries from which they source their products. The company uses shea butter sourced from West Africa to make its famous lip balms, and, in return, donates both money and resources for the improvement of the lives of women in the country. As of 2021, they have planted billions of wildflower seeds in order to restore the bee population in West Africa and have donated over $1 million, in both grants and products, to better the lives of over 14,000 women there. 

Final Thoughts

Makeup companies like L’Oréal, Tatcha and Burt’s Bees are helping to empower women living in poverty across the globe. These brands are not only offering financial assistance and resources but also tackling the root causes of gender-based violence by promoting education and empowerment. These endeavors highlight the potential for corporate resources to make a profound impact on women’s lives, breaking the cycle of poverty and violence.

– Allison Groves 
Photo: Flickr

Poverty reduction in LebanonIn 2020, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was devastated by a huge explosion. The impact resulted in over 200 casualties and 7,000 injured persons. The explosion made an estimated 300,000 people homeless. The youngest victim was just 2 years old.

The tragedy is “one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history,” and Beirut’s infrastructure suffered greatly. Around 50% of the country’s health centers were deemed unusable. The World Bank estimated at least $3.8 billion in damages. Since the explosion, Lebanon’s economy has struggled. The country’s GDP declined by approximately 2.6% in 2022. The country has one of the lowest revenue rates globally, at 6% of GDP in 2022.

Amid political and economic instability, poverty in Lebanon, particularly in Beirut, is rising. In 2023, around 80% of civilians were living in poverty. This poverty rate is almost double the rate from before the Beirut explosion. In 2019, the poverty rate in the country was 42%. In Beirut alone, an estimated 25,000 households live in extreme poverty. More than ever, poverty reduction in Lebanon is critical. Thankfully, the country’s strife has prompted many community projects supporting rebuilding the country.

Espace Fann

In 2019, just over 59% of Lebanese civilians enrolled in higher education. However, as the country’s economy declines, education opportunities are in crisis. Annual tuition fees have drastically increased, from LL885,000 ($58.90) in 2022 to LL12 to 13 million ($798.60 – $865.15) in 2023.

This economic decline and increased tuition fees inspired Nour Tannir and Yasmine Dabbous to develop Espace Fann. The project is based in Beirut and provides a creative space for residents. According to their website, the group offers ”art education and design classes to young and mature talents. While we focus on design thinking and skill building, our aim is to encourage creativity, sustainability and healing through the arts… At Espace Fann, we offer university-level art education, including courses and workshops, at affordable prices. Our instructors help students learn new skills, develop their creativity and launch new careers in the arts.”

The initiative developed in 2019, but the NGO Stand for Women aided Espace Fann after the blast. The Lebanon-based charity supports women’s economic freedom and gender equality and aids the women’s workforce across the Middle East.

In January 2022, the unemployment rate in Lebanon was 29.6%, almost a third of the population. Espace Fann tackles poverty in Lebanon by providing participants with skills to support employment. The affordable courses include website design, self-branding and promotion, filmmaking and various art courses.

The “BERYT” Project

The Beirut Housing Rehabilitation and Cultural and Creative Industries Recovery Project, or BERYT, is alleviating poverty in Lebanon by focusing on re-establishing housing for Beirut residents. U.N.-Habitat and the World Bank lead it. The project supports people in Beirut through four main objectives. To begin, BERYT contributes to restoring damaged buildings with “heritage value.” It also offers support in renting and offers grants for cultural productions. It also focuses on “project management and capacity building.” Concentrated efforts will be in areas within 5km of the blast’s center. Within these neighborhoods, buildings that housed more economically challenged families will remain a priority.

Matbakh El Kell: The Community Kitchen

Another aspect of poverty in Lebanon is food insecurity. In 2023, the U.N. estimates that 1.4 people in the country face food insecurity. This data includes high rates of malnutrition. 28.3% of women between 15-49 have anemia. In addition, low birth rates affect over 9% of infants.

Matbakh El Kell: The Community Kitchen is just one of many projects tackling food poverty in Lebanon. The kitchen serves over 2,500 meals a day, completely free. The project is in the blast epicenter and was developed due to the 2020 tragedy. Meals are for a range of vulnerable demographics. This demographic includes impoverished families, the elderly, hospital outpatients and orphans. Souk El Tayeb, a company founded in 2004, developed the kitchen. The company aims to support local cuisines and produce while uniting communities. Souk El Tayeb also oversees many farmer’s markets, further aiding the local economy.

The 2020 Beirut explosion was a tragedy many Lebanese citizens will carry with them for a lifetime. However, the disaster has seen various innovative, community-based projects focused on poverty reduction in Lebanon.

– Bethany Brown
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in LesothoThe status of women’s rights in Lesotho has seen slow but gradual improvement. Progress has been made in areas such as domestic abuse, poverty, sexual violence, economic opportunity and access to health care. Government initiatives, paired with NGOs and international institutions, have been the main driver towards achieving equality for women in Lesotho. 

Background on Lesotho

Lesotho is a landlocked country located in South Africa. The former Basutoland won independence in 1966 from the United Kingdom and recognized itself as the Kingdom of Lesotho. A constitutional government was then instituted in 1993 after a brief span of military rule. It acquired a semblance of political stability following the constitutional reforms in the late 1990s. 

Lesotho is classified as a lower-middle-income country. In 2022, 34.7% of the population was experiencing poverty, living on only $2.15 per day.

Definition of Women’s Rights

Women’s rights involve issues such as freedom from sexual violence, the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to education and to own property. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (U.N. Women) is the U.N. entity committed to empowering women and promoting gender equality. Their vision of equality involves the following:

  • Elimination of discrimination against women and girls.
  • Empowerment of women.
  • Achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian actions and peace and security. 

The Current Status of Women’s Rights in Lesotho

Internationally, Lesotho ranks very low on women’s rights. According to the Human Development Report 2021/2022, the country ranks 144 out of 191 worldwide on gender equality. As a result, women are more likely to live in poverty than men due to discriminatory practices that limit their employment opportunities.

Women in Lesotho face high rates of domestic abuse and sexual assault. A survey in 2018 reported that 16.5% of women ages 15–49 were victims of physical and/or sexual assault from a current or former partner within the last year. 

A lack of quality health care services is a major issue. With little access to necessary medical procedures, women become susceptible to high infant and maternal mortality rates. An underdeveloped health care sector also weakens the official capacity to mitigate virus outbreaks. Women in particular are disproportionately affected by HIV, as 27.3% live with the virus, compared to 17.4% of men.

Lastly, women are politically underrepresented in local government. Lesotho’s population was measured at 2.3 million as of 2022. Although women make up 50.7% of the population, as of February 2021, women held 23.3% of the seats in parliament. 

The Progress

Despite these ongoing issues, the status of women’s rights in Lesotho has improved. Regarding women’s health, the rate of infant and maternal mortality is decreasing. This is a direct consequence of the 86.6% increase in health care professionals attending live births.

The government has also passed legislation to enhance the status of women’s rights in Lesotho. In the last two decades, the government has passed The Sexual Offenses Act, The Anti-Trafficking Persons Act and the Local Government Elections Act, the latter of which sets a quota for women’s representation in local government.

The recent growth of the garment industry has had a major impact on poverty reduction. Currently, the garment industry produces 20% of the country’s GDP. While many men in Lesotho travel to South Africa to work in mines, it is women who find employment in clothing factories. Women make up 80% of the factory workforce. Such job opportunities mean women no longer have to rely solely on a man’s ability to provide.

To further reduce poverty the World Bank has adopted the Country Partnership Framework 2024–-2028 for Lesotho. This strategy focuses on three long-term outcomes:

  1. Increasing employment via the private sector by improving the enabling environment for micro to medium enterprise growth, fostering private investment and job creation.
  2. Enhance human capital outcomes by raising the quality of education/health/social protection.
  3. Strengthen climate resilience by optimizing natural resource allocation and increasing access to climate-resilient infrastructure.


Lesotho is still struggling with high rates of HIV/AIDS and relatively low gender inequality. Yet clear progress has been made on women’s rights. These improvements serve as a sign of hope that greater swaths of the population in Lesotho are experiencing longer, more stable and more enriching lives.

– Nicholas Jaramillo
Photo: Pixabay

Gender Equality in Lithuania
Lithuania ranks ninth in the world for gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2023. Here are seven facts about gender equality in Lithuania.

7 Facts About Gender Equality in Lithuania

  1. Women’s Day in Lithuania: Women’s Day in Lithuania is celebrated annually on November 2. It marks the day in 1918 when Lithuanian women received the right to vote. To acknowledge the momentous 100th anniversary since women gained suffrage, the capital city of Vilnius put up several female-inspired pedestrian crosswalk lights in 2018 in place of the traditional male symbol.
  2. The Effects of COVID-19: The spread of COVID-19 had a disproportionate effect on men’s and women’s involvement in household tasks. In particular, 2021 saw 57% of women in contrast to 13% of men in Lithuania holding the sole responsibility of childcare. This 44% divide exists as one of the larger gender gaps throughout the European Union (EU). Similarly, in 2021, 70% of women in comparison to a significantly lower 8% of men reported holding the responsibility of household caretaking duties. These duties were also more strenuous for women as 16% of women devoted more than four hours a day toward chores compared to 5% of men.
  3. The Gender Pay Gap: The gender pay gap still persists in Lithuania, despite the country being recognized for equality. Reports indicate that women earn approximately 14% less than men. In addition, according to the State Social Security Fund Board in 2021, women-dominated sectors still see a disparity in pay with their wages generally being lower than their male counterparts. Gender statistics provided by CreditInfo Lithuania also underscore 72 out of 81 professional fields in Lithuania where men traditionally earn more than women. While these statistics can be impacted by complex features including childcare leave and the number of men and women in an individual sector, it is evident that the country can do more to address this gap.
  4. Violence Against Women: Violence against women ranging from domestic abuse to femicide is a crucial matter to address throughout the EU with 788 women killed by a partner or relative across 17 member states in 2020, according to the European Institute for Gender Equality EIGE). Additionally, 13 women from Lithuania contributed to that total. To address violence against women, in June 2013, Lithuanian officials signed the Istanbul Convention — a human rights treaty dedicated to tackling violence against women. However, the convention remains unratified which demonstrates the need for more action to combat violence against women in Lithuania.
  5. Female Prime Minister: Lithuania elected the first female president of Lithuania in May 2009, almost a century after women had gained the right to vote. However, even the first national election in 1920 saw women alongside men occupying positions of power as parliamentarians. Currently, female politician Ingrida Šimonytė acts as the prime minister of the nation. Furthermore, female politicians Aušrinė Armonaitė and Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen represent the Freedom and Liberal parties respectively.
  6. Gender Equality: Among the member states in the EU, Lithuania received a score of 60.6 out of 100 in the 2022 Global Gender Equality Index. The country’s highest scores in the index lie in the fields of work, a measurement of fair access to employment and work benefits between men and women, and health, which compares gender equality in access to quality health services. For the aspects of work and health conditions, Lithuania received scores of 73.9 and 82.7 respectively. However, in other indicators such as time, which measures the sum of time between men and women dedicated to domestic tasks, Lithuania scored only 50.6.
  7. The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men: For years, the Lithuanian government has enacted legislation to address gender equality. The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men was adopted in 1998 and the Law on Equal Treatment came into place in 2005. These laws worked to “forbid any discrimination – whether direct or indirect – on the grounds of sex.” Moreover, lawmakers amended these laws in 2016 and reflected changes including a ban on the priority given on the basis of gender, a prohibition on requiring job candidates to disclose personal class and familial information and a bar on discrimination against women as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or nursing.

Looking Ahead

While Lithuania is one of the top countries for gender equality, it still has some room to improve. With the continued efforts of the Lithuanian government, women’s rights should see even further improvements in the years to come.

– Katrina Girod
Photo: Flickr

Marginalized Girls in AfghanistanEducation for marginalized girls in Afghanistan is an opportunity that is often missed out on due to the government’s discouragement of women’s participation in public life. Particularly in rural communities, as women experience fear over who will marry them if they are not living up to the ideals of a woman, the pressure to conform to the traditional expectations of being a woman in society is held in high regard. A consequence of this is that marginalized girls in Afghanistan are more likely to drop out of school or never attend in the first place

The Mission To Improve Education 

In 2012, the U.K. government established a commitment to improving young girls’ lives around the world through education. These projects are funded by U.K. Aid and reach out to the most marginalized communities across the globe, including rural communities in Afghanistan. 

One of these projects, set to finish in September of 2023, is called Steps Towards Girls’ Education Success (STAGES). Across 16 provinces in Afghanistan, in 1078 communities, the STAGES project has supported 24,830 marginalized girls as U.K. Aid aimed to improve education for marginalized girls in Afghanistan through community-based classes. 

The Success of STAGES

The project has succeeded so far in establishing 1,411 community-based classes in Afghanistan. To improve the quality of education as a whole and ensure that girls continue their education, U.K. Aid has implemented several elements to the project. One significant element of this is mentorship. The program has built an environment where confident, more assertive students take part in activities while supporting more timid, weaker students. This mentorship is encouraged during extra-curricular activities such as creative writing and debating. 

A 2017 report on the success of STAGES in its first five years found that while this helped improve the self-esteem and attendance of the weaker students, the program also developed valuable leadership skills in the mentors. 

In extension to this, the STAGES project has given out grants to young girls from marginalized communities to have the opportunity to train to be a teacher by attending Teacher Training Colleges. So far, this has helped 1,995 young women enter teacher apprenticeship programs.

To continue education of high quality, the project ensures teachers are well trained and have implemented regular in-school teacher training lessons. The teaching practices promoted in these training sessions focus on how education must be accessible and inclusive to everyone, despite gender or disability. 

In addition to community-based classes, the STAGES project has supported 587 government schools in terms of improving academic facilities and school infrastructure.

So far, STAGES has seen great success in improving and sustaining education for marginalized girls in Afghanistan. STAGES will continue to fight for better education until September 2023 with these three goals in mind

  1. Support 5145 more students to complete their lower primary education (up to grade 6). 
  2. Continue the maintenance of 235 educational facilities. This will be carried out through monitoring in classes and establishing school management councils. 
  3. Undertake professional development for 358 teachers. 

Looking Ahead

The denial of women’s access to education in Afghanistan is still prevalent in many communities, but projects such as STAGES make the fight a little less daunting for young women who want to go to school. Projects like this are a key component to the improvement of education for marginalized girls in Afghanistan and thus, the improvement of the prospects of Afghanistan. 

– Poppy Harris 
Photo: Flickr