Women in Ukraine
Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, women in Ukraine faced several gender-related disparities. Households in the nation that women head are more likely to be food insecure, with 37.5% experiencing moderate or severe levels of food insecurity compared to 20.5% of male-headed households. Women in Ukraine also faced a 22% gender pay gap and a 32% pension gap, leaving them more economically vulnerable to the impacts of war.

The War

As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the cost of living is increasing at a rapid rate, creating an ongoing crisis in the nation. The war’s disruptions to oil and gas supplies and staple food commodities such as wheat, corn and sunflower oil have further propelled the crisis. These disruptions have created rising prices of food and fuel. A new U.N. Women report provides insight into how the Ukraine War and its global impacts on food and energy are affecting women disproportionately, making them one of the war’s most vulnerable groups.

The women who have stayed in Ukraine have become their households’ primary providers, as many of their partners have gone to the front. They face increasing financial pressures as securing unemployment is very difficult with the destruction of infrastructure and businesses. Along with this, as a result of rising food prices and shortages, women have reported reducing their own food intake to provide more for other family members, thus putting their own nutritional needs at risk. Along with this, increasing energy prices have forced families to resort to using low-tech fossil fuels which expose women cooking and doing various tasks in households to significant amounts of air pollution. The U.N. Women estimates that the use of low-tech fossil fuels in homes kills around 3.2 million people each year globally, making this a severe health risk.

The U.N. Women also reports that school-aged girls in Ukraine are at a higher risk of having to leave school and enter marriage as another way for families to make ends meet during this tumultuous time. This not only places them at an educational disadvantage for future opportunities but also puts their physical and emotional well-being at risk.

Pregnant Women

The U.N. estimates that around 265,000 women in Ukraine were pregnant when the invasion began. With this, the war caused serious disruptions in maternal health care. Expectant mothers have very limited access to doctors and the medical supplies needed to give birth, making it a potentially dangerous process. As a result of the physical and emotional stress expectant mothers are facing, there has been a rise in premature births and complications.

One group working to rectify this growing reproductive health crisis is the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA). This group has created a mobile maternity health unit in which they go into remote communities and places that have limited access to healthcare due to the invasion. Through this unit, they provide women with health services and help deliver babies safely.

Increased Gender-Based Violence

One of the biggest concerns of the U.N. Women for women in Ukraine is the rise in gender-based violence, specifically increases in sexual violence. As a result of food insecurity, women have reported facing encouragement to use transactional sex for food and survival. There have also been increases in sexual exploitation at the hands of the opposing military and threats of human trafficking amid worsening conditions, according to the U.N. Women report.

Displacement

Women fleeing Ukraine are facing additional wartime burdens. A survey highlighting displacement patterns from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) found that women account for 81% of all refugees and 83% of women are traveling with at least one child. With this, one in 10 women is traveling alone. These women are more likely to face harassment and gender-based violence and trafficking. The U.N. Women also reports that for every 100 Ukrainian women, there are 77 children under the age of 11. This indicates that women are bearing a significant extra burden when it comes to childcare, and thus require a greater need for shelter and access to basic necessities.

Groups Working to Rectify These Inequities

Many often do not pay attention to women’s voices and needs in wartime, despite them being a part of the most vulnerable groups. Organizations such as U.N. Women have been working diligently to shine a light on the challenges facing women in Ukraine and to provide solutions.

After conducting multiple different studies through surveying and other methods, U.N. Women is now providing recommendations for the best practices for protecting and enhancing the livelihood of women in Ukraine and refugees. As women bear distinct and additional burdens during times of war, the organization is arguing that they must have representation in all decision-making platforms on de-escalation, conflict prevention and mitigation. Along with this, it is crucial to ensure that data, evidence and women’s voices inform humanitarian responses, including budgeting, programming and service delivery.

While the Ukraine war is affecting everyone in Ukraine, it is not affecting everyone equally. It is important to recognize the needs of the most vulnerable groups when moving forward with response efforts, thus more efficiently providing services where there is the greatest amount of need. As groups like U.N. Women continue to highlight the struggles of women in Ukraine and refugees, it is important that influential nations such as the United States back the effort as well.

– Emma Cook
Photo: Flickr

Single mothers in Japan
In Japan, 56% of families headed by single mothers are living below the poverty line. This is the highest of all the OECD nations, with the U.S. coming in a faraway second at 33.5%. Single mothers in Japan struggle enormously, despite living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. This is the result of a toxic confluence of social expectations, corporate stigma and government negligence.

The Cause of Poverty Among Single Mothers in Japan

The original cause of this high level of poverty has roots in expectations about family environments. The social structure in Japan is very specific and well-established. There is an assumption, especially from the government, that every household consists of two people raising their children. In addition, it is widely expected and common for women to give up their careers and stay home to raise children. About 70% of Japanese women do just that. 

However, as the divorce rate rises in Japan, this expectation is becoming a direct driver of poverty. There is no existence of the legal concept of joint custody in Japan and women are most commonly fully responsible for their children post-divorce. Less than half of the women receive any alimony or child support payments at all.

As a growing proportion of Japanese women become the sole provider for their families, they are taking on more economic responsibility. However, their economic rights and opportunity have not increased in tandem. This is what leads directly to poverty for single mothers in Japan. Women usually are only able to secure low-paying and part-time work, if they can get a job at all. Only 43% of Japanese mothers that want to return to the workforce are able to. Even if the mothers manage to snag a job, women earn 30% less than men for the same work in Japan. 

Government Response to Divorce-Related Public Benefits

The government’s response to the issue worsened this phenomenon. As divorce rates rose and more single women applied for public benefits, the government implemented reforms to cut back on these social safety nets. In 2003, the government reduced allowances and tacked income and time limits to benefits. Even when available to mothers, twin stigmas about being poor and being divorced disincentivize struggling mothers from even accepting public benefits. Activists maintain that this stigma has led to only 200,000 of the 3.5 million eligible children receiving the financial assistance they are entitled to.  

Left with extremely limited employment options and meager government support, single mothers in Japan and their children are vulnerable to falling below the poverty line. 

Little Ones

Luckily, a nonprofit operating in the Tokyo area known as Little Ones is directly assisting single mothers and children in the everyday struggles they face. Little Ones focuses on supporting impoverished children by providing employment, housing and networking services to single parents in the country. Kunihisa Koyama, a social activist in Japan, founded the organization in 2008. The organization has since been able to house upwards of 300 single mothers

Little Ones has identified isolation as a key factor in mothers’ poverty and the organization hosts regular gatherings and barbecues to allow single mothers to connect and create a supportive community amongst themselves. Further, the organization supports employment by helping single mothers secure and prepare for interviews, even assisting with such small details as makeup techniques. To support mothers in housing, Little Ones assists with the housing search, ensuring that mothers can be in a place that meets their needs.

Looking Ahead

Finally, on top of all this meaningful work to reduce poverty among single mothers in Japan, Little Ones also works to raise awareness about this little-known issue. As there is not much coverage of the hardships that single mothers in Japan face, this organization is doing important work by getting the word out. It is inspiring to know that someone is working to support these mothers who face so many social and economic roadblocks. With continued work and progress on this issue, poverty in Japan will be sure to decline.

– Grace Ramsey
Photo: Flickr

Families Uplift Single Mothers
Millions of women in Africa experience single motherhood as a result of widowhood or divorce. Single mothers often turn to their immediate and extended families for various forms of child care and parenting support. Families uplift single mothers in Africa by giving them the time and opportunities to develop careers while also raising their children. Parenting support from single mothers’ families can allow women to eventually support themselves and their children independently.

Single Motherhood in Africa

Widowhood and divorce often leave women in Africa to take care of their children without a partner. Single motherhood involves a variety of hardships, many of which are rooted in economic concerns. Women in Africa are commonly married off young before they have the opportunity to complete their education and develop a career. Some single mothers turn to prostitution or other dangerous forms of work to earn money and support their children.

Unemployment is vast in many African countries, especially for women. Widows, in particular, may face difficulties supporting their children because some families disown widows and do not consider women family members when their husbands die, according to SOS Children’s Villages. When a single mother is able to receive support from her family members, perhaps by moving in with them, she may gain the time and resources to find work and better support her children.

The Role of Family Support

When women in Africa experience widowhood or divorce, they often turn to their extended families for assistance in covering finances and child care. Single mothers who live in areas with struggling economies may be especially reliant on family support to raise their children. A research study on family support of single mothers in Nairobi, Kenya, found that the majority of women in the community receive some form of support from their family networks. However, the study found that the extent of a family’s support depended on family members’ age, employment status and geographic proximity to the single mother.

Family support of single mothers may be especially prominent in Africa due to widespread poverty and limited governmental resources to assist women who are raising their children alone. Families uplift single mothers in Africa by helping them raise their children, develop careers and escape poverty.

Next Steps in Uplifting Single Mothers

Families with single parents are disproportionately vulnerable to poverty. Women who raise their children without a partner’s support may struggle to find and maintain a job while juggling parental responsibilities. Single mothers’ families may provide some emotional and practical support, but additional governmental assistance is necessary to ensure the safety and success of single-parent families throughout Africa. Policies that promote financial security, social assistance and greater access to job opportunities can help empower single mothers in Africa, especially if women lack families to help them support their children.

In countries that lack governmental policies to assist single parents, family support uplifts single mothers and gives them the opportunity to gain financial independence. When families uplift single mothers with emotional, financial and practical assistance in child care, women may be able to seek out and maintain stable career opportunities. Further governmental action is necessary to support single mothers in Africa, but families can make substantial differences in the lives of single mothers and their children.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in Niger 
Niger, one of the largest countries in West Africa, holds the highest rate of child marriages compared to the rest of the world. In fact, 75% of young girls marry before turning 18. This is because the nation’s legal marital age is 15 for girls and 18 for boys. Although Niger has made efforts to reduce child marriage, the country has noted only minimal progress in the last 20 years. As a result, many consequences have arisen from child marriage.

Why Does Niger Have a High Child Marriage Rate?

First, child marriage in Niger harshly affects girls deprived of attending school because they need to rely on others to survive. In addition, many young girls choose to drop out of school because of the unsafe learning environments. As a result, they cannot live an independent life due to the lack of income and confidence to make rational decisions. Due to few other options for their futures, many families decide to marry their daughters off for financial stability.

According to the World Bank, Niger has a poverty rate of 42.9%. However, Niger’s population continues to increase, causing the number of people in poverty to grow. Currently, many families are struggling financially, so they view child marriage as a way to alleviate their financial burdens. Because of this, marriage becomes “a strategy for economic survival” due to the lack of social protection, according to Save the Children.

Moreover, child marriage in Niger is common because many communities believe a woman’s purpose is to become a housewife and bear children. Due to this belief, families tend to prioritize the education of sons over daughters. To add, marrying young is a way that Niger communities attempt to prevent pregnancy before marriage, which is “a source of shame for the family,” Save the Children reports.

Consequences of Child Marriage in Niger

Although families aim to avoid pregnancy before marriage and look for financial stability by marrying their daughters off at a young age, this only causes more damage in the long run. For example, without education, young girls are unaware of the risks of early pregnancy. In fact, these young girls are at greater risk because 30% of the young girls show signs of malnutrition. As a result, “maternal mortality constitutes 35% of all adolescent deaths between ages 15 and 19,” according to Save the Children.

Not only do women face physical challenges but they also face mental health challenges caused by marrying at a young age. This is because young girls have to abruptly transition to adult life and take on responsibilities they are not mentally prepared to tackle. They are still at an age that requires guidance from a guardian. In a BMC Public Health study, many Nigerian girls expressed emotional distress and depression due to fulfilling their marital responsibilities and sexual demands from their husbands.

Due to the common practice of child marriage in Niger, young girls do not have the opportunity to have a childhood and face threats to their lives and health. For instance, some experience domestic violence and cannot return to school to escape these living conditions. Unfortunately, young married girls “have worse economic health outcomes than their unmarried peers, which are eventually passed down [sic] to their own children,” UNICEF reported.

How is Niger Receiving Help to End Child Marriage?

UNICEF is working to help implement laws and policies to help end child marriage and work within Nigerian communities to address the social norms that encourage child marriage. UNICEF partnered with the Niger Traditional Leaders and Association and the Islamic Congregation because they are well respected in their communities and can create new rules for people to follow.

Due to these advocacy efforts, the Niger Government created a national action plan, “Towards the End of Child Marriage in Niger,” that convenes every month to discuss what the community needs to do to advocate for better treatment of young boys and girls. Fortunately, “Education sessions by the Village Child Protection Committees were able to prevent cases of child marriage through direct mediation with parents and assisted girls to return to school,” UNICEF reported.

Lastly, Plan International Niger is helping girls establish confidence to fight child marriage in their communities. As a result, the young girls are using their voices and asking their leaders to end child marriage and provide them with an education to gain independence through employment. The Plan International Niger placed child protection committees throughout Niger and provided them with the tools to protect the rights of young girls to ensure change.

Child marriage is common in Niger, but it has far-reaching negative impacts on girls, such as emotional stress and depression. To add, young girls are at risk of domestic violence and pregnancy complications due to their age and malnutrition. These young girls have to become adults at an early age, which strips them of their childhood experiences. Fortunately, many young Nigerian girls are receiving help in an attempt to end the cycle of child marriage.

– Kayla De Alba
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap In Namibia
Namibia ranks sixth in the Global Gender Gap Report of 2021, the highest-ranked African country for bridging the gap between women and men economic opportunity, educational attainment, health and political empowerment measure. In just nine years, Namibia has climbed 35 spots, excelling past Canada and the United States in the Global Gender Gap Report. A closer look at Namibia’s history provides insight into actions taken to bridge this gap and how the gender wage gap in Namibia still plays a role in society today.

Post-Independence Namibia Focuses on Gender Equality

Prior to Namibia gaining independence, many considered women the property of men. When Namibia gained full independence from South Africa in 1990, it implemented numerous changes aimed at improving gender equality, as well as equality for all, in the new constitution. Article 10 states that “[n]o persons shall be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, color, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status,” emphasizing Namibia’s commitment to equality.

Also, the Married Persons Equality Act became law in 1996. The act allows women to sign contracts, register a property in their name and act as directors of companies. Women in Namibia hold about 44% of the managerial professions.

In the year 2013, “Namibia’s ruling party, the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO),” implemented a 50/50 gender policy that requires “equal representation of men and women” in parliament. At the time of the policy creation, women filled only 25% of the positions in parliament. Currently, women occupy 44% of the seats in parliament, proving that the gender policy has been effective in adding more women to work in government roles. The government’s adoption of these policies aid in creating a more inclusive environment for women in Namibia, particularly in political and urban settings.

More Women Seek an Education

Women in Namibia are leading their male counterparts in post-secondary education with a tertiary education enrollment rate of 30% for women and 15% for men. At the largest university in Namibia, the University of Namibia (UNAM), 64% of the students are women while only 36% are men. Many women continue on to obtain their master’s degrees or doctoral degrees. Once out of school, the labor force participation rate for women drops below men at 57% and 64% respectively. Even though more women seek secondary education than men, women earn less than men in several industries.

While the gender wage gap in Namibia is less prominent than that of many other countries, the distribution of wealth is immensely unequal. According to the Gini index, which measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income, Namibia ranks second-highest in comparison to all other countries in the world. Namibia has one of the highest Gini index ratings because of its high unemployment rate, with women more likely to experience unemployment. About 64% of Namibians survive on less than $5.55 per person per day, which equates to slightly more than $2,000 a year. The average amount U.S. citizens spend on a summer vacation is roughly the same.

Namibians Continue to Reach for Gender Equality

Much like other patriarchal societies, when women and men reach for equality, there are often roadblocks along the way. While women in Namibia now occupy 44% of the positions in parliament, they are still shy of the 50% goal of the 50/50 gender policy. The gender wage gap in Namibia has narrowed significantly, but there is still massive inequality concerning family income distribution. There is also an underlying dialogue in Namibia that women are inferior to men. Sexual and gender-based violence is prevalent due to societal and cultural norms. In fact, among the age group of 15 to 49, 28% of women and 22% of men in Namibia believe a husband beating his wife as a form of discipline constitutes a justifiable act. These beliefs contribute to a culture of gender inequality, which often proliferates inequalities in the workplace and perpetuates traditional gender roles.

Fortunately, the government is continuing to implement policies beneficial to gender equality. Additionally, women are pursuing secondary education at astounding rates, which is crucial in combating gender-based disparities as well as decreasing the gender wage gap in Namibia.

– Amy Helmendach
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, with a population of 6.6 million inhabitants. Women in Nicaragua face many challenges such as increased poverty and violence. The following will present several areas where women’s rights in Nicaragua require improvement.

Violence Against Women

In Nicaragua, violence against women in the form of abuse is one of the most serious social issues that the country faces. Among married women in Nicaragua, 52% have reported cases of spousal abuse, with a median duration of five years. Additionally, 21% of these women reported an overlap between both emotional and sexual violence, with 31% of these women being sexually and/or violently abused during their pregnancy.

Needless to say, these statistics are disheartening and scary. With such high rates of abuse around the country, there seems to be little or no hope for Nicaraguan women to escape this abusive cycle. However, there are several organizations that have contributed to the decrease of sexual abuse in southern countries, such as Self-Help International. It is the largest global organization that works to prevent torture and abuse of all sorts by educating and empowering women in developing countries. Misinformation about abusive relationships is very common among Nicaraguan women. Organizations like this allow women to escape this kind of relationship.

The Gender Gap

The Human Development Report has ranked Nicaragua 124 out of 189 countries based on Gender Equality Index in 2017. Additionally, women are more likely to face poverty in Nicaragua than men. With facts like these, it is evident that there is a disparity between men and women in Nicaragua.

Family members are often the ones who push women in Nicaragua to the sex trafficking industry. Additionally, 28% of Nicaraguan women give birth before they are 18, which is mostly due to sexual violence. This is the issue of society not discouraging violence against women.

Women’s Rights and Poverty

The 2016 poverty rate in Nicaragua was 24.9% with an average salary being $265. A large number of women in Nicaragua experience pregnancy at a young age. They usually stay at home and care for their children rather than working and garnering an income. However, the income that their male counterparts provide for their families is frequently insufficient. In fact, about 78% of households in Nicaragua live in ‘substandard’ conditions, the highest rate in all of Latin America.

This problem returns to the roots of the gender gap and women’s treatment in Nicaragua. It means that the cycle of women having children at a young age and caring for them with a low household income will only continue across the years, even affecting future generations. This means that one of the most important places to start with solving this problem is encouraging education about abuse.

Solutions

Though there are certain difficult cases that prevent the maximum execution of women’s rights in Nicaragua, hope still exists for the country. With a declining number of abuse cases due to the exposure of organizations like Self-Help International, women’s rights in Nicaragua are beginning to solidify. Self-Help has been working to solve global issues like hunger and poverty since 1999, and it provides education and opportunities for women in these countries. In 2019, Self-Help was able to offer clean drinking water to 3,600 Nicaraguan residents in nine communities. With this preceding success, it is likely that Self-Help’s initiative to alleviate the women’s rights issues in Nicaragua will quickly gain traction.

Self-Help is currently working on a project to educate and empower 200 Nicaraguan women through workshops and microloans. This could lead to a reduction in young women entering and staying in abusive relationships. It is the success of the organizations like this one that can bring hope to women and influence the policymakers when spreading awareness about women’s rights.

Though Nicaragua’s statistics regarding women’s rights and abuse are not yet within positive measures, the work of NGOs should result in the improvement of conditions for women in Nicaragua over the next decades.

– Andra Fofuca
Photo: Flickr

Maiti Nepal
Nepal, landlocked between the global superpowers of China and India, is one of the most impoverished countries in South Asia, due in part to poor infrastructure, corruption and natural disasters. Staggering poverty rates and unemployment have created a crisis at the India-Nepal border, a hotspot for human trafficking. Women and girls are especially at risk of sex trafficking, especially girls in rural communities far from the capital city of Kathmandu. Maiti Nepal aims to address the growing issue of human trafficking in Nepal.

Women and Girls at Risk

Women and girls make up about “71% of modern slavery victims” worldwide. Illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and geography all contribute to the human trafficking crisis. Faced with few prospects, many girls are lured into the hands of traffickers with the promise of work and prosperity abroad.

Traffickers transport these girls to urban centers, either to Kathmandu or various cities in India. These girls must work in brothels, massage parlors, dance clubs, circuses and private homes. If the girls are lucky enough to make it back home, they then face additional discrimination and struggle to reintegrate into society.

COVID-19 Worsens the Trafficking Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the risks of human trafficking for girls. As unemployment rises, desperate families are more likely to believe traffickers can provide a better life for their children. In a society that views girls’ education as less important than boys’, extended school closures leave girls at heightened risk of falling victim to trafficking. It is imperative that global actors and the government of Nepal take immediate action to protect girls and women during the pandemic.

Neither India nor Nepal requires documentation for citizens to cross their shared border, allowing traffickers to move people across without detection. Dealing with the COVID-19 crisis has further depleted the resources and ability of anti-trafficking officials to adequately monitor border crossings. Estimates indicate that traffickers move 54 women and girls into India every day.

Maiti Nepal Spearheads Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Anuradha Koirala founded Maiti Nepal in 1993 with the goal of addressing the trafficking of women and children. Named a CNN Hero in 2010, Koirala has devoted the majority of her life to rehabilitating survivors of trafficking and implementing prevention efforts. Maiti Nepal recognizes that without improving conditions in Nepal, trafficking will continue to persist.

Though the Nepali government attempts to monitor the border, women and girls continue to slip through the cracks. Maiti Nepal supplements the government’s efforts to guard the busy border between India and Nepal. Volunteers directly intercept traffickers at the border and safely return the victims to their homes or a transit center. To date, Maiti Nepal has intercepted more than 42,000 girls at the border and convicted 1,620 human traffickers.

Maiti Nepal began as one rehabilitation home to house survivors. Now, its programs include prosecution and legal counseling, transit homes, education sponsorships, job training, advocacy efforts, rehabilitation and HIV/AIDS treatment programs, among others. Maiti has provided rehabilitation services to about 25,000 women and children. The nonprofit spearheads multiple efforts to provide direct aid as well as prevention and advocacy efforts throughout the country.

Looking Ahead

The continued efforts of Maiti Nepal and the Nepali government safeguard impoverished girls and women from the lures of human trafficking. Understanding the links between poverty and human trafficking, a broader focus on poverty reduction can accelerate efforts to combat human trafficking in Nepal.

– Elizabeth Long
Photo: Unsplash

Poverty in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is a shining example for other nations in Central Asia. Despite a poverty rate of 38%, Kyrgyzstan has made tremendous progress over the years in reducing its poverty, and it continues to do so. On top of the progress, the country is trying to make economically, the nation is actively trying to make social improvements to its society. Specifically, Kyrgyzstan wants to make its society better for women. One example of Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to do this is the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Other forces actively pushing for equality in Kyrgyzstan include the Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan (FWNGO). The work of FWNGO has been persistent, and it has helped many causes that promote women’s equality in Kyrgyzstan.

Goals of FWNGO

One of the goals of FWNGO is to engage women’s organizations on a local level in order to complete certain goals. For example, FWNGO wants local women’s organizations to help increase the number of women in governing bodies, and for these women to hold important decision-making roles. Decreasing violence against women is another important goal of FWNGO. To do this, FWNGO helps local women’s organizations monitor violence against women. The work of FWNGO also focuses on education. This includes educating women’s rights organizations about the field of gender equality and also teaching them important skills to further their goals.

FWNGO’s Programs

FWNGO runs numerous programs to promote women’s equality in Kyrgyzstan. One such program is its Participation of Women in Political Processes. This program started back in 2006, and since then, its purpose is to engage women to participate in all political levels within Kyrgyzstan. FWNGO believes that in order for women to have equality, they must fight for it by using the political processes that Kyrgyzstan affords them. FWNGO does not just want women themselves to participate in political processes in Kyrgyzstan; it wants other women’s rights organizations to help promote women as well. By having more women participate in elections, FWNGO can better guarantee that the interests of women will end up in government programs and decisions.

Another program that FWNGO runs is Combatting Discrimination and Violence against Women. The goal of this program is to reduce all forms of violence and discrimination that Kyrgyzstani women face. FWNGO actively works with other women’s rights organizations to prevent violence against women. To achieve these goals, FWNGO actively pursues aggressors against women and brings them to justice.

How it Helps

The work of FWNGO is important because it helps women living in poverty in Kyrgyzstan. Rural women in Kyrgyzstan are poorer than urban women, and their quality of life is much worse. Rural women are also less likely to actively participate in political processes in Kyrgyzstan. FWNGO seeks to help women living in these circumstances by encouraging them to participate in Kyrgyzstan’s political processes. While the focus of the FWNGO is on all women, rural women are in a tougher situation.

Kyrgyzstan has made great progress over the years. The work of FWNGO and organizations like it will ensure that progress will continue to occur.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Water scarcity in EthiopiaEthiopia’s water supply is scarce — only 42% of the population has access to clean water. For those that don’t have access to clean water, women bear the brunt of the work to get it for their families. Therefore, water scarcity in Ethiopia is, though some might not realize it, a women’s issue.

While men work and try to earn money, mothers, wives, and young girls carry the water burden, both physically and metaphorically. These women walk long distances, often three hours or more to get clean water for drinking, bathing, washing clothes and more. These long distances take away valuable time from these women’s lives. Mothers often have to bring their young children on these long journeys or risk leaving them by themselves. Instead of spending time taking care of their children or working, many take six to eight hours every day collecting water and returning home. As for young girls, many sacrifice their education to get water, causing their chances of escaping poverty to dwindle. Women also have to carry heavy jerry cans for long distances, which could lead to physical strain or other health issues.

The Economics of Water Scarcity in Ethiopia

Water scarcity in Ethiopia affects 61 million people who do not have access to safe water. Although the water that they have access to may not be safe, many Ethiopians have no choice but to pay for their dangerous water supply. Water from sources like unprotected ponds and shallow wells can cost some Ethiopians around 20% of their total income.

Since this water is not safe, many people also get sick from water-borne illnesses like cholera and diarrhea, which takes time, money and energy away from working or finding a way to earn money, catapulting Ethiopians further into poverty.

Organizations Helping Supply Water

There are several organizations with a mission to supply water to people in countries that face water scarcity, including Ethiopia. WaterAid UK is one of these organizations. The organization supplies areas with a scarce water supply, like remote villages, with access to clean water. For example, WaterAid UK installed a 400-meter pipe from a spring which pipes water down to the center of the village of Ferenji in Ethiopia. The organization has supplied 26.4 million people with clean water since its establishment in 1981.

Another organization bringing clean water to Ethiopia is charity:water. Founded in 2006, charity:water uses different methods including piped systems, hand-dug wells, drilled wells, gravity-fed systems, spring protections and latrines to provide Ethiopians with clean water. Their efforts so far have helped 3,025,007 Ethiopians gain access to safe water.

A Progressive Future

Water scarcity in Ethiopia proves to be a burden for women, causing them to sacrifice work, education, money and providing for their families. Many do not have a choice but to make the long treks to retrieve clean water, but several organizations use their resources and funds to build water sources for Ethiopians. These efforts will help lessen the water burden for women across Ethiopia and allow them to focus on progress for themselves and their families.

– Sana Mamtaney
Photo: Flickr

help women in poverty Across the globe, poverty comes in different forms. Over the years, individuals and companies have developed products to help those in poverty. Since poverty disproportionately impacts women, several companies are inventing products that address the specific tribulations of women. Flo, Hemafuse, Embrace and fashionable iodine dots are inventions that aim to help impoverished women across the globe.

4 Empowering Inventions to Help Impoverished Women

  1. Flo: The Reusable Menstrual Kit. Flo is an inexpensive, reusable menstrual kit designed by Mariko Higaki Iwai. The discreet kit allows girls to “wash, dry and carry reusable sanitary pads.” In developing nations such as Kenya, female students miss about five days of education a month due to a lack of access to menstrual products to properly manage their periods. The Flo kit aims to reduce the risk of infections due to inadequate menstrual hygiene and address period poverty to keep girls in school. With girls able to consistently attend school, they are able to acquire the tools and knowledge to rise out of poverty.
  2. Hemafuse: The Blood Recycler. Hemafuse is an affordable syringe-like device that collects and filters blood that can then be used in a blood transfusion. Since developing nations lack a “reliable blood supply” for emergency blood transfusions, Hemafuse serves to reduce preventable deaths due to blood loss. Hemafuse is particularly valuable in “ruptured ectopic pregnancies,” a common occurrence in the developing world. During ectopic pregnancies, a woman “can lose half of her blood volume,” necessitating an emergency blood transfusion that Hemafuse can help facilitate in countries with limited resources. In this way, Hemafuse can save the lives of millions of impoverished women in lower-income countries.
  3. Embrace: The Portable Incubator. One of the leading causes of newborn death is unregulated body temperature, which can lead to a newborn death every 10 seconds. Incubators are designed to address this issue, however, high costs make incubators inaccessible to hospitals that cannot afford the technology. Embrace is an affordable, portable incubator that serves as an alternative to this necessity. The inexpensive incubator is reusable and “does not require stable electricity,” making it ideal for impoverished and remote hospitals with limited resources. The design also “allows for close mother-child interaction” as a mother can hold the newborn instead of placing the baby in a conventional incubator. Embrace has saved the lives of more than 350,000 babies and aims to continue this trend with the goal of saving “one million babies by 2026.” Overall, Embrace reduces mortality rates among children of impoverished women.
  4. Life-Saving Dots: Fashionable Iodine. In India, many women face iodine deficiencies due to a lack of trust in foreign medicine. As a result, “pregnancy complications and fibrocystic breast disease” are not uncommon. The life-saving dot functions not only as a source of iodine for women but also as a bindi. Without having to take medication, women can wear these iodine dots on their foreheads to supplement the nutrients they need to maintain good health.

Overall, these four innovations provide significant support for women in poverty. Through creative and innovative solutions, the world can see more progress in reducing global poverty.

– Maddie Rhodes
Photo: Flickr