Posts

Poverty in Samoa
Samoa, a small island country in the Pacific, struggles with economic issues like rising unemployment, an imbalance between rural and urban communities and vulnerability to natural disasters. Here are nine facts about poverty in Samoa.

9 Facts About Poverty in Samoa

  1. Approximately 18% of the population lives in urban areas, with the other 82% living in rural areas. Most Samoans live in the rural and remote areas of the island, resulting in an imbalance of education, opportunities and social benefits. Most of the population finds themselves working in the agricultural business, with tropical agriculture occupying 65% of the labor force. In the urban areas, there are more job opportunities other than agriculture such as technicians, pilots, and doctors.
  2. Nearly 72% of the Samoa population does not have access to the internet. A lack of internet access can exacerbate educational and health disparities. The internet provides many resources for students to improve their education. It also contains information on the locations of hospitals and clinics. With little access to this information due to the inaccessibility of the internet, the split between low-income and higher-income communities is worsened, creating even more poverty.
  3. Natural disasters threaten Samoa’s agriculture. In rural areas, the population works mainly in agriculture. However, natural disasters can damage the industry. Samoa is located in a seismic zone called the “Ring of Fire.” It is exposed to deadly earthquakes, such as the 2009 earthquake, which had a magnitude of 8.3. This earthquake was followed by a tsunami that “took 150 lives, left 2.5% of all Samoans homeless, destroyed transport, water and energy infrastructure across large areas.” This significantly impacted the agricultural industry, damaging the economy and increasing poverty in Samoa.
  4. The unemployment rate in Samoa is only 8.4%. While Samoa’s unemployment rate is less than other countries, it has increased from 5.7 to 8.4%. Age imbalance is one of the main causes. The unemployment rate is 8.7% of all adults 15 and up; however, among youth between the ages of 15 and 29, it is 16.8%. An increasing unemployment rate, particularly for the youth population, can be devastating for a small country.
  5. There are high rates of domestic violence in Samoa. Domestic violence can lead to more poverty for its victims, often women. According to the Guardian, a report found that nine out of 10 respondents said abuse occurred regularly within their home. The frequent harassment that women face in Samoa can take a toll on them and their families. Oftentimes, these women are shunned by society for exposing these issues. This can be especially disadvantageous to lower-income women, who often do not have the support network or the financial resources to proceed with charges against their abuser.
  6. Rural households are more likely to have only one room for sleeping. In contrast, urban households are less likely to live in small homes, highlighting the inequality between these two areas. As rural families are more likely to live in overcrowded houses due to having smaller homes, there is a greater risk of infectious diseases spreading. This, on top of the weak healthcare system in place, can create a health crisis within the rural population.
  7. There is also education inequality between urban and rural areas. While the national literacy rate for the country of Samoa is at a high 97%, there is a disparity in the quality of education between rural areas and urban areas of the island. Village schools only offer four years of primary education, leaving children to attend the district school for further education. District schools, however, tend to take only the most successful students, leaving many others without adequate educational opportunities. This then leads to few economic opportunities for rural students as they become young adults.
  8. COVID-19 is contributing to the increase in poverty rates. A measles outbreak in September 2019 impacted more than 5,700 people. The death rate stood at 1.46%, similar to the COVID-19 rates. While Samoan health authorities have recent experience dealing with the spread of disease, the island is still suffering from the pandemic. Samoa is facing a shortage of testing capacities, medical equipment and personal protective equipment. International travel and public transport restrictions have led to changes in social dynamics, suspended business operations and caused people to lose their jobs, especially common in tourism and in small businesses.
  9. A handful of organizations are addressing poverty in Samoa. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an organization helping rural people in Samoa. It has helped 7,300 households and has three multimillion projects. The organization created the Samoa Agriculture & Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project in October 2019. This project costs $30 million and will help to increase the incomes of rural families and improve infrastructure.

These nine facts about poverty in Samoa illuminate how poverty has impacted the livelihoods of its citizens. However, through the work of humanitarian organizations in the country, Samoa can address poverty and create a more economically and socially empowered population.

Philip Tang
Photo: Flickr

women’s rights in UzbekistanA former Soviet Union territory, Uzbekistan has a population of 30 million. In recent years, there have been governmental and societal changes along with a new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Women, who play a pivotal role in the Uzbek family structure, have experienced different issues related to their rights in the country. There are several key facts to know about women’s rights in Uzbekistan.

Societal Views Oppress Women

Women faced new setbacks after Uzbekistan obtained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviets, who colonized the region in the latter half of the 19th century, promised women that they would be emancipated from the patriarchal customs of society, viewing them as oppressive against women. This movement encouraged female education, and in the 1980s, an estimated 41% of university students were women. However, after the independence of Uzbekistan in 1991, in a push to reestablish the Uzbek tradition, the progress of women’s rights in Uzbekistan took a hit when conservative social customs were reintroduced. Only six years later, in 1997, the number of women in higher education institutions dropped to 37% and it is estimated to have fallen even more drastically in recent years.

The Prevalence of Child Marriage

Child marriage is still prevalent. Most Uzbek families believe that the role of women is to marry and run the household. This social concept encourages child marriage throughout the country, particularly in rural regions. With girls marrying at younger ages than boys, female education is directly impacted by child marriage, as women are generally confined to the home after marriage. Furthermore, it is expected that women are to give birth within their first year of marriage, despite a lack of education about reproduction and childbearing. With young brides, female bodies are often not prepared or mature enough to give birth healthily. This has led to health complications such as infertility and chronic conditions. Women’s rights in Uzbekistan are hindered by child marriage, as it limits female educational opportunities and leaves women with little chance to escape a life of housework and childrearing.

Domestic Violence is Not a Crime

Domestic violence is deemed a family issue and not an actual crime. Since independence from the Soviet Union, the push to reaffirm traditional values has meant that women have a subservient role within the household, and to a further extent, within society. Outside of their homes, women face restrictions on how to live their lives, with limits on educational and work opportunities in favor of marriages and children. With women in rural areas at particular risk for domestic violence, Uzbekistan has largely ignored women’s rights within the home. Violence against women has reportedly increased in recent years.

Women’s Rights Reform at Governmental Level

President Mirziyoyev has taken promising action to address the lack of women’s rights in Uzbekistan. Elected in 2016, Mirziyoyev spoke about the importance of women within Uzbek society, noting their problem-solving skills and administrative capabilities. He urged for their involvement in government and industrial factions and even appointed Uzbekistan’s first female Head of Senate, Tanyila Narbaeva. With men dominating government positions for years, a female in an authoritative government position was a progressive shift and a promising result of political changes.

Legislation to Protect Women

The fight for women’s rights in Uzbekistan is becoming more of a priority. In 2019, two new laws were introduced to protect women’s rights. The first is to ensure equal opportunities and freedoms for men and women and the second is to safeguard women from domestic violence and assault. Also, almost 200 shelters have been set up across the country to provide for women escaping violence. Unfortunately, there is very little funding for the subsistence of these shelters. While this is undoubtedly progress from the country’s more traditional views on the role of women in society, more significant action needs to be taken to defend these newfound rights and sustain protective services.

The Future of Women’s Rights in Uzbekistan

The push for women’s rights in Uzbekistan has been made more difficult by the country’s history as a Soviet Union colony and their subsequent counterreaction to reestablish their traditional cultural values. In recent years, women have been restricted by societal pressures to marry young and spend their lives taking care of the household. With limited opportunity to decide their own futures, women in Uzbekistan have not truly attained their human rights. Fortunately, however, President Mirziyoyev has expressed his desire to transform women’s rights in Uzbekistan. Hopefully, with a new female government official and progressive laws, women’s rights in Uzbekistan will continue to improve.

– Eliza Cochran
Photo: Flickr

How the Haya Joint Programme is Reducing Violence Against Women in PalestineThe Haya Joint Programme, in partnership with United Nations efforts, is working to reduce violence against women in the West Bank and Gaza strip. A vital resource protecting women and girls, the program works towards achieving gender equality for generations to come.

Program Background

The Haya Joint Programme is a Palestinian human rights program aimed at ending violence against women through education and intervention. The program is funded by the government of Canada and works with a variety of United Nations organizations, such as U.N. Women, U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and U.N. Population Fund. The Haya Joint Programme also works with Palestinian law enforcement and government agencies to implement their efforts at local levels.

The program seeks to change existing attitudes about gender violence through community education. They accomplish this by teaching teachers intervention techniques for those facing domestic violence. Furthermore, the program pushes for essential legislative change to provide further legal protection for women.

Forensic Training for Gender Violence Justice

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports that an overwhelming number of women have experienced violence by a partner. This emotional and physical hardship has directly affected over half of all women in the Gaza strip and 30% of women who have ever married in the West Bank. Only 1% ever reported these events to law enforcement.

In a press release on January 5, 2021, UN Women announced their collaboration with the Haya Joint Programme. The release indicated a plan to increase forensic science training at the West Bank’s only forensic lab for cases of domestic violence. Training includes instruction of lab equipment, preserving crime scene evidence and forming opinion evidence on behalf of gender violence survivors. In the last year alone, the lab assisted on 1,690 cases to present forensic evidence in court.

Moreover, this training aids in the identification and prosecution of perpetrators in cases of sexual assault and homicide. Police, crime scene and family protection officers also received training for handling and preserving crime scenes through this program.

Training for Teacher Intervention

Another crucial aspect of the Haya Joint Programme is to increase education and awareness surrounding gender and domestic violence. They conduct training courses for teachers on topics related to intervention and legal rights for women and girls in Palestine.

In the last year, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights held multiple training sessions with the Haya Joint Programme for educators teaching in United Nations Relief and Works agency schools in the Gaza strip. The training sessions include lessons on how teachers can recognize gender violence among students, and provide counseling and other resource referrals to those who need it. Teachers also learn about women’s legal rights in instances of violence, and what courses of legal action they can take.
The program has had to adapt to COVID-19 precautions in the last year but conducted their training sessions on Zoom during November and December. These sessions were still widely attended by 129 teachers, and 103 attendees were females.

A Global Issue

The Haya Joint Programme notes that these efforts to diminish violence against women are in alignment with the United Nations Sustainability Goals for 2030. Goal 5 is to reach gender equality by working to increase women’s education, increasing women in government positions and reducing domestic violence.

With 1 in 5 women experiencing intimate partner violence every year, initiatives like the Haya Joint Programme are essential. Thankfully, this organization is attempting to cut down on these offenses by supporting women and girls who deserve justice. The Haya Joint Programme focuses on core problems by working directly on things like obtaining legal rights and changing attitudes. As its efforts are paramount to Palestine’s prosperity, the program looks toward a successful future.

– June Noyes
Photo: Flickr

The Legislative Plan to Fight Gender-Based Violence in NamibiaNamibia is a Southwestern African nation bordering the Atlantic ocean. With a population size of just over 2.6 million and a ratio of female to male just short of 1:1, Namibia is one of the more progressive African nations. Namibian places second out of 55 states on the continent in its efforts to reduce gender inequality. However, while it has made considerable progress, there are still lengths to go in reducing sexual and gender-based violence in Namibia.

The Pandemic of Gender-Based Violence in Namibia

Namibia’s Constitution contains several articles clarifying its mission toward gender equality. One is specifically dedicated toward recognizing the unique oppression and exclusion of women and vowing equity through legislation stating women should be “encouraged and enabled to play a full, equal and effective role in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the nation.” These priorities are included within the National Development Plan (2007-2012) as well as the National Gender Policy (2010-2020). Namibia participates in several international and regional agreements that encourage gender equality and female empowerment.

Even with these steps in place, it was noted by the Unesco Gender Equality Objective Outputs in 2013 that the implementation of legislation concerning gender-based violence in Namibia needed critical improvement. A 2013 Namibia Demographic Health Survey showed that 33% of Namibian women aged 15-49 had experienced some form of gender-based violence. In 2019, Namibia recorded 200 cases of domestic violence per month according to Hendrick Olivier, the commander of Namibia’s Gender-Based Violence Protection Unit.

A serious disparity exists between the gender equality legislation and the socio-cultural norms that are pervasive within Namibia. The old patriarchal cultural atmosphere, which has begun to fade with a new youth movement, places women as inferior to men. A survey for women and men between the ages of 15-49 showed that 28% of Namibian women justified physical violence as a sufficient disciplinary tactic, while 22% of Namibian men believed the same thing. This disparity is shown once again in the gendered labor force statistics, with only 52% of women actively participating compared to 63% of men. This statistic illustrates the deep-seated cultural belief in the differences in men and women that have perpetuated gender-based violence in Namibia.

The Youth Impact

Namibian youth are actively shifting the culture and utilizing social media in mobilizing their efforts against rampant femicide. After the murder of 22-year-old Shannon Wasserfall, protests were planned online to disrupt the Namibian economy. They were successful with a 4-day economic standstill in the capital of Windhoek. The protestors had three demands: a specific deadline for policy to be implemented, the resignations of the Gender Equality Minister and Deputy Doreen Sioka and Bernadette Jagger and the declaration of a state of emergency.

The Namibian Government took these demands seriously. On October 9, President Hage Geingob met with protest leaders to discuss demands. Where previous protests were regionally limited and short-lived, recent protests have had much larger youth participation and are widespread with the help of social media. After the meeting, the Namibian Government identified their course of action in a response letter. The Namibian Government assured protestors they understood the severity of gender-based violence in Namibia and the necessity for swift change.

Legislative Action Ahead

The response letter entails an entire reformation of the system with the implementation of multiple policies such as the Domestic Violence Act and the gender-based action plan. The Namibian Government has promised the establishment of a sexual offender registry as part of the Domestic Violence Act. An investigation into open and pending cases is already underway as well as the compilation of data on offenders to track and identify repeat offenders throughout the city. The government will also utilize existing court infrastructure to create sexual and gender-based violence courts to try offenders.

Additionally, a review of the sentencing laws will take place as the maximum sentence for sexual offenders is currently at 37.5 years. Victims will receive psycho-social support and education on their options moving forward from assault and possible trial. The government will also expand its armed patrols to 24/7 along with the creation of a special operations team. The response letter includes a plan to draw more financial support toward these measures. The cabinet has approved these policies and has made clear they expect to follow through with urgency.

The Future of Gender Equality in Namibia

Namibia is certainly on the road to curbing sexual and gender-based violence. Already present in Namibia was the Gender-Based Violence Prevention Unit as well as counseling and education for women involved in gender-based violence cases. There is a willingness to change Namibian culture and the adoption, implementation and reform of policies concerning gender-based violence are essential to expedite the alterations.

The letter of response to the protests is a step in the right direction to a future of gender equality in Namibia. The end of gender-based violence is on the horizon with the youth spearheading this modernized movement joined by full cooperation of the Namibian Government.

Lizzie Herestofa
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in TajikistanThe Republic of Tajikistan is a Central Asian country landlocked by Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. Known for its mountainous terrains, Tajikistan was a union in the USSR until its collapse in 1991. The country currently has a population of approximately 9.6 million, with slightly more than 50% being female. Unfortunately, women’s rights in Tajikistan is an issue that manifests itself in various different forms.

Maternal and Child Statistics in Tajikistan

The average fertility rate in Tajikistan is 3.6 births per woman, which is higher than the global 2.5 births. In 2017, maternal mortality stood at around 17 per 100,000 births. Fortunately, this is a significant decrease in deaths compared to 1993 where there were 151 deaths per 100,000 births. The female child mortality in 2018 was approximately 30.6 deaths per 1000 births, which is lower than the male child mortality rate at 38.9 per 1000 births.

Political and Workplace Representation of Women

In Tajikistan, traditional gender roles are upheld, and female political representation is quite uncommon. In 2015, only 19% of parliament seats were held by women. Despite this statistic, female political representation in local government is higher at around 40%. This was not always the case. Before the collapse of the USSR, Tajikistan women saw equal economic and political opportunities as their male counterparts. Through its cessation from the Soviet Union along with civil unrest between 1992 and 1997, strict gender roles have begun to be reinforced in Tajik society. 

Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women

In 2011, Tajikistan had rape rates of 0.6 cases per 100,000 people, and HIV rates in women have been stagnant between the years 1999 and 2018. Moreover, in 2011, it was estimated that there were 48.5 cases of assault per 100,000 people, which reflects one of the most significant women’s rights issues in Tajikistan: Domestic violence.

Women in Tajikistan are frequently subjected to severe domestic violence. According to Amnesty International, “Between a third and a half of women in Tajikistan have experienced physical, psychological or sexual abuse by husbands or other family members.” Through various studies conducted between the years 2017 and 2018, it has been revealed that 26.4% of Tajikistan women experience “lifetime physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence.”  Although the Law on the Prevention of Violence in the Family was put into place in 2013, domestic violence is yet to be criminalized. Thus, cases of abuse often go underreported. The normalization of abuse permeates throughout Tajikistan, and the United Nations has reported that at least “one in five women” in Tajikistan are victims of domestic violence.

Current Economy for Women in Tajikistan

Due to the lack of job opportunities and high poverty rates, many Tajik men seek to find job opportunities in neighboring countries, especially in Russia. In 2010, 16% of Russian migrants were Tajik, and over one million Tajik citizens go to Russia for work reasons. In a 2019 research article by Edward Lemon for the Migration Policy Institute, it was claimed that “the actual number of Tajiks in Russia may be much higher, with as many as 40% working illegally and therefore not appearing within the official statistics.” Moreover, the article reveals that “30% to 40%of Tajik households have at least one member working abroad.”

As men are often the ones traveling for work, women in Tajikistan are left to singlehandedly take care of their household. The China Global Television Network America conducted an interview with Tajik wives in the Dushanbe area of Tajikistan which borders Uzbekistan. Parvina, a mother of four, had been caring for her children by herself ever since her husband left for Russia 2 years ago. Although Parvina receives money from her husband, many other wives do not get any financial support at all. However, because of the lack of males in the country, Tajik women are now able to take on traditionally male roles both in the household or workplace in order to support their families. 

Efforts to Empower Women and Improve Women’s Rights in Tajikistan

While women in Tajikistan often suffer from domestic violence and are not given equal social and political opportunities, things are slowly changing. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has an office in Tajikistan which aids women’s resource centers in the area. According to the OSCE website, these resource centers are “the largest civil society network in Tajikistan promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls to claim their rights and access state services and institutions.” These resource centers offer “free psychological counseling and rehabilitation for women in Tajikistan” who were victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Oxfam International is also an organization that strives to empower Tajik women. Its “Transforming Care Work” aids rural communities in Tajikistan by creating leadership groups for women. This allows women to become financially independent, which can in turn alleviate the high poverty rates the country experiences.

Despite their lack of rights, high domestic abuse rates and lack of economic opportunity, women in Tajikistan are slowly becoming empowered. If the Tajik government began putting more emphasis on the prevention of domestic violence and support for women in politics and the workforce, Tajikistan will continue to improve and become a significantly safer place for women.

– Kelly McGarry

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Women's Rights in Mongolia
Mongolia is a country in East Asia with more than 3 million people. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Mongolia experienced varied periods of social change and growth. After dispelling the controlling Communist Party in the early 1990s, social and economic policies rapidly transformed the nation’s outlook and prospects. Consequently, opportunities for women also changed. To understand this issue better, here are six facts about women’s rights in Mongolia.

6 Facts About Women’s Rights in Mongolia

  1. The communist party provided new opportunities for women in the twentieth century. In 1921, the Mongol nationalists established a communist party, in tandem with the Soviet Union, which essentially proclaimed equality between men and women. As a result, women received an education, entered the workforce and had political power. The government provided generous benefits and healthcare, and female literacy rates dramatically increased.
  2. The fall of the Soviet Union presented opportunities and challenges for women’s rights. The political transition in Mongolia came with newfound hardships, particularly economic ones. The new government removed subsidies assisting Mongolians, leaving many without financial assistance. From 1991 to the mid-200s, women faced higher unemployment levels, and more than 30% lived in poverty.
  3. With men working in the fields, women have turned to cities for employment and have found success. In recent years, as agriculture was deemed a male endeavor, women were forced to turn to other places to earn an income. Parents subsequently invested in their daughters’ education, and now, with women more educated than men, they are more likely to be employed. This phenomenon is now being deemed a “reverse gender gap.”
  4. The female unemployment rate is 2.6%, while male unemployment is 7.1%. This might not be a good thing for women’s rights in Mongolia, however. With higher alcoholism rates for Mongolian men in recent years, there is a clear connection between unemployment, alcoholism and violence within the home. Approximately one-third of Mongolian women suffer from domestic violence, a staggering statistic for a country whose economy relies so heavily on female labor.
  5. Sexual harassment remains a serious issue. With an estimated 63% of women experiencing sexual harassment of some form, the need for reform is evident. There is not a law in Mongolia protecting women from male harassment. Even in the workplace, where women are significant contributors, there is no legal defense against unwanted harassment.
  6. Despite female education rates, women are subject to massive inequities in pay. On average, women are more likely to be better educated than their male counterparts; however, traditional norms and values prevent women from fully achieving equality. A lack of childcare and social benefits, partnered with patriarchal values, gets in the way of opportunities for women. Furthermore, the gender pay gap stands at more than 12.6%, an increase from previous years. Even when women persevere through their society’s social limits, they do not receive as much pay as men of the same standing.

The unique history of Mongolia has altered the standing of women in Mongolian society multiple times. Despite Mongolia’s patriarchal values, the investment in female education has proven to be fruitful as women are well-educated and seeking work within the commercial setting. However, there is still much work to be done, as women face lower wages, sexual abuse and inequalities.

There is room to be hopeful, though, as rising levels of education and employment mean that there will be continued improvement within Mongolia’s social and economic spheres. Hopefully, women’s rights in Mongolia will continue to improve, and all Mongolians will soon embrace female contributions to society.

Eliza Cochran
Photo: Flickr

Women Are More LikelyGlobally, women are faced with the invisible burdens of gender inequality which are entrenched deeply within institutional structures and communities as a whole. These prejudices may limit a woman’s access to higher employment and assistance programs, ultimately leading to higher rates of poverty, especially among women of color. As of 2018, the poverty rate for women was 12.9% compared to the 10.6% rate among men. There are several reasons why women are more likely to live in poverty.

Educational Inequalities

In many developing countries, women are more likely to be denied an education, as nearly 25% of all girls have not completed primary school education and two-thirds of women make up the world’s illiteracy rate. In Somalia, for example, only 7% of girls are enrolled in primary school. The lack of education among women may result in higher pregnancy and poverty rates. According to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, a girl’s education is a driving force in their economic well-being. Somalia suffers from one of the world’s worst educational systems and is one of the poorest countries as well, having a poverty rate of 73%. With education, females can increase their access to higher-paying jobs, and thus, benefit the family’s income., which results in a positive cycle for generations, bettering the economy overall.

Women Are Paid Less

Despite having the same qualifications and working the same hours, women are more likely to get paid less than men. Worldwide, women earn nearly 20% less than men. These variances within wages affect women in low-paying jobs and poorer countries dramatically. Closing the gender wage gap can result in overall equal income distribution. In the United States alone, closing the wage gap would mean that half the poverty rate of working women and their families would be cut.

Period Poverty

Around the world, many females may suffer from period poverty: inadequate access to hygienic menstrual products and menstrual education. The lack of education is related to the stigma periods carry. Periods have been associated with immense shame for a long time and this stigma is carried throughout communities, deeply limiting girls’ opportunities. Globally, periods are the reason why girls are absent from school at a disproportionate rate, as two out of three girls in developing countries are skipping school during their period. In India, 23 million menstruating girls drop out of school annually because of a shortage in hygienic wash facilities and products. Without an education, females are less likely to obtain a high-paying job and escape poverty.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Exploitation

One in three females globally fall victim to some form of domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime. Girls and women who grow up in poverty are also at an increased risk of experiencing such crimes. Victims of domestic or sexual violence can be impacted through the degradation of their physical or mental health, loss of employment or are ultimately driven into homelessness. Globally, females lose out on nearly eight million days of employment every year as a direct result of violent acts committed against them. According to a survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, domestic violence was the root cause of women becoming homeless in half of all the cities surveyed.

Pregnancy

Economically, females are potentially burdened with the costs of pregnancy, including the additional fees of caring for a child, more significantly than men. Custodial mothers are twice as likely to be poor compared to custodial fathers. Further, unplanned pregnancies can be detrimental to a woman’s income as being unable to work immediately after giving birth means no pay, especially in the informal working sector. In the developing world, nearly 12 million girls aged 15-19 give birth each year, which often results in the end of the girls’ education and the beginning of child marriage. Children who are born from early pregnancies or marriages more often than not enter the same cycle of poverty and no education.

Organizations for Female Empowerment

Malala Yousafzai started the Malala Fund after members of the Pakistani Taliban shot her for advocating the right for girls to be educated. Since then, Malala has built her project into a global initiative that furthers the goal of providing free quality education to young girls in developing countries.

The Orchid Project is a global initiative to end female genital mutilation (FGM). The Orchid Project functions as a platform that raises awareness of the areas where FGM is most prevalent and advocates against the practice. The Orchid Project has brought together more than 193 countries with the collective goal of abolishing FGC by 2030.

Women for Women is an NGO that works to aid those who are in hostile conflict zones and are the victims of collateral damage. Women for Women helps to uplift these victims of violence by providing them with tools, support and education so that they may earn a living and remain stable through the direst of circumstances. Women for Women has helped more than half a million women in countries that have been directly impacted by war and conflicts.

Empowering Women Means Reducing Global Poverty

Females in developing countries experience complexities that restrict their development and progression. Organizations are helping to raise awareness of these complexities and aid women in need. Since women are more likely to experience inequalities that push them into poverty, empowering women ultimately means alleviating global poverty.

– Maya Falach
Photo: Flickr

Women in UzbekistanAfter the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan, like many post-Soviet nations, experienced a surge of conservative culture amongst the ruling elites and the general population. This surge led to the implementation of policies that were more restrictive to women than the previous Soviet policies had been. Women in Uzbekistan have long been excluded from policymaking. Now, women in Uzbekistan are taking to activism to ensure their voices are heard.

ACTED Uzbekistan

ACTED Uzbekistan is an organization that works to uplift the voices of women and girls throughout the country. It is a European Union-funded project that raises awareness for women’s issues and helps to mobilize women who otherwise may have been unsure how to begin. In addition to fieldwork, ACTED Uzbekistan also works to generate a report every year that analyzes the gender equality status in the country and offers suggestions on how to increase equality. Through the implementation of this project, a greater number of female activists have been able to claim platforms and affect policy.

Child Brides in Uzbekistan

One of the largest issues for activists currently is child marriage within the country. Though the law requires that girls be at least 17 years old before they are married, families have begun to pursue more religious ceremonies that legally eliminate the need for a civil union. As more girls are married off young, the amount of women in higher education and public office decreases and the cycle of discrimination continues. To combat this, organizations such as UNICEF and Girls Not Brides have partnered with the country’s Committee of Women to raise awareness of the detriments of child marriage, help young brides in danger and push for legislation that will end this practice once and for all.

HIV/AIDs in Uzbekistan

Another issue that has generated a lot of female activism has been the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country. Roughly 50,000 people in the country are currently living with the disease, according to UNAIDS, but through activism, the numbers have come down in the past few years. Organizations such as the Day Center for HIV Affected Families gather volunteers, many of them HIV positive themselves, and they work to provide assistance to struggling families while also providing educational material on HIV/AIDS and how to prevent it. Many of these activists are young women who were born HIV positive and who are committed to helping others like them.

Domestic Violence

In addition to the aforementioned activist initiatives, a large movement has begun in the country to identify and counter domestic violence. Like many nations, domestic violence in Uzbekistan is still seen as a personal issue and there are no provisions in the law that prohibit violence perpetrated by a spouse or parent. Both the official Women’s Committee and nongovernmental organizations have worked to combat this issue, with the Women’s Committee focused mostly on establishing crisis centers and shelters and NGOs promoting awareness and education on the issue. With both of these measures applied in conjunction, the country is slowly starting to recognize domestic violence as an issue.

The Necessity of Women’s Activism

As the United Nations and many NGOs have stated, women’s activism is necessary for progress. In Uzbekistan, this is evident by all of the work women have done to increase female participation, counter disease and help other women in need. The work gives evidence to a brighter future for women in the country but also for the people of Uzbekistan at large.

– Mary Buffaloe
Photo: Flickr


Gender equality in the Dominican Republic has been shown by the Sustainable Development Report to be on the rise and on its way to achieving and maintaining the SDG quota for achievement. Of the four criteria to meet, the The Dominican Republic has met two. But is the Dominican Republic truly the progressive country it is touting itself to be?

Gender Equality and Domestic Violence

Although by SDG’s empirical data, the Dominican Republic is a progressive country when it comes to gender equality, there are still many cultural norms that keep women being truly equal to the opposite gender. The country has a high rate of violence against girls and women, as well as a high rate of maternal mortality and teen pregnancy. It took until January 2010 for the Dominican Republic to amend its constitution to make it more inclusive and favorable for women. This includes Article 39, which condemns domestic and gender-based violence. Perhaps the most iconic and historic act of gender-based violence occurred when the Mirabal Sisters were murdered under the orders of Trujillo because of their public dissent against the dictator.

Over the past two years, there have been over 15,000 reported cases of domestic violence against women in the capital city of Santo Domingo, this makes domestic violence 23% of the reported crimes in the city – the most reported crime. 46% of the femicides reported in the last year were results of domestic violence. Before January 1997, when the law against domestic violence was enacted, domestic violence was legal and was not considered a violation of human rights. Wealth and social standing do not make women immune to domestic violence. Even women of higher social strata are beaten and abused by their husbands, who use their wealth and power to send them out the country to hide their misdeeds.

Sex Trafficking

Another problem plaguing the women in Quisqueya is sex trafficking. According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Department of State, while the Dominican Republic is making significant efforts to eliminate sex trafficking, it does not meet the minimum standard to eradicate sex trafficking. Like in many other areas of governing, the country has shown effort and improvement but not enough to make significant headway. The efforts included convicting more traffickers and doling out more severe penalties to traffickers, enacting a national action plan and increasing the effort to combat labor trafficking. However, the government did not meet these standards in some areas, such as investigating and prosecuting and then issuing inadequate sentences to those of convicted. Not only did the Dominican government fail at prosecuting the criminals, but it also failed the victims of trafficking. The government did not offer enough specialized services to assist the victims.

Foreign Organizations Stepping In

While the Dominican government itself is failing its women, foreign organizations are attempting to combat domestic violence and sex trafficking. The United Nation’s Women charter (UN Women) has worked to mainstream gender in national planning and policymaking by providing assistance, support and advice to the Dominican government. They have been developing strategies and instruments to interject gender in plans, programming and projects in all levels of government. UN Women also plans on closing gender gaps in social protection and security. Together with the United Nations Development Programme, International Labour Organization, UN Women has contributed to and promoted investigation and analysis into the social protection of women. The purpose of gender protection is to overcome social inequalities. It also promotes gender equality and women’s rights through advocacy campaigns which include the Beijing+20 platform and HeForShe, hosting workshops with civil society organizations, distributing information through social media and national events. UN Women established their training center in the Dominican Republic where it offers high-quality training for gender equality by offering courses, tools and services on topics like gender-based violence, the care economy and masculinity.

United States Government Recommendations

The United States Department of State has recommended various ways to combat sex trafficking. The State Department recommends that the government convict traffickers indiscriminately including government officials, fully fund, and implement a new national action plan. They also need to provide adequate support, resources and training to combat trafficking, especially in areas outside of Santo Domingo. The Department of State recommends implementing protocols to identify adult and child trafficking victims and get them protective services. It suggests that the Dominican government amend the 2003 anti-trafficking law so that proving force, fraud and coercion in victims under the age of 18 are no longer required; thus joining the international stage when it comes to sex trafficking.

The Dominican government’s response when it comes to victims of sex trafficking has been abysmal. The government has reportedly spent $545,500DOM when it comes to victim assistance, this equals to $10,920USD. NGOs have stated that victims’ services were “… ad hoc, minimal, and not well coordinated or specialized.”

Looking Forward

With so many members of the international community offering aid and advice on how to combat sex trafficking, it will be interesting to see of the new PRM administration under President Luis Abinader will continue to reject assistance or finally embrace it.

– Pedro Vega
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Chile
Although Chile has one of the most prosperous economies in Latin America, it has been criticized for being slow to pass legislation that protects women’s rights. However, while there are still barriers to gender equality, great progress has been made. Here are six facts about women’s rights in Chile.

6 Facts About Women’s Rights in Chile

  1. Women’s rights in Chile have greatly improved over the last few decades. Women’s rights faced a slow start, with women finally gaining the right to vote in all elections in 1949. However, attempts at further progress between 1973 to 1988 were blocked by Chile’s authoritarian military regime. Chile became a democracy again in 1990, and since then, has been able to focus on improving women’s rights.
  2. Divorce, which was nonexistent in Chile, finally became legal in 2004. This event is seen as a win for women’s rights, as Chile has high rates of domestic violence. With divorce finally an option, women have a much better chance of escaping toxic and abusive relationships. Additionally, over the past two decades, the government has passed legislation that benefits single, working mothers. Women in need now have access to subsidized child care and maternity leave, furthering their ability to leave unhealthy relationships.
  3. The number of women in the Chilean Government has increased. Michelle Bachelet became president in 2006, making her the first female president of Chile. Since then, the government created quotas to increase women’s presence in government. Now, 40% of Parliament candidates are required to be female. To support this initiative, a non-profit called La Morada is actively working with women and encouraging political participation. Because of these changes, there has been a sharp increase in women holding government positions.
  4. The Chilean government is continuing to address women’s rights. In 1991, the government created the National Women’s Service (SERNAM) to advance women’s rights in Chile. It assists in creating woman-centered legislation that advocates for greater rights and representation for women. SERNAM has received increased funding in recent years, which has allowed it to continue and widen its work. Furthermore, Chile’s national action plan focuses on combatting domestic and sexual abuse. The government is creating programs to educate and train communities to best handle these sensitive situations, as well as opening centers that serve as safe havens for survivors of abuse.
  5. Women are being empowered to rise out of poverty and pursue education and careers. Women, especially women living in poverty, have historically had lower employment rates in Chile. The government has been striving to provide jobs for 300,000 women to bridge these gaps and encourage female employment. To ensure mothers can return to work, the government has increased access to daycare facilitates. This allows women to raise children while also providing for their families financially.
  6. Women have been active leaders of protests. Chile has recently experienced a period of severe political and social unrest. During this time, there have been frequent protests against the unfair actions of the government. Women activists in Chile have fought against the patriarchal values that have been historically enforced in their country. They repeatedly use the phrase “Nunca más sin nosotras” at many protests, which translates to “Never again without us women.” By participating in and leading these events, women are asserting that they will continue to fight for increased women’s rights in Chile.

These six facts about women’s rights in Chile highlight the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done. Gender equality can only be achieved if this issue remains a priority. With continued efforts by both the government and activists, there is hope for women’s rights to continue to improve in Chile.

Hannah Allbery
Photo: Flickr