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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

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 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

Hunger in South AfricaSouth Africa is the southernmost country on the continent of Africa. The country has 11 official languages and more than 56 million people with ethnic and religious diversity. The country has struggled with several issues such as food insecurity, poverty and a poor healthcare system. Here are five facts to know about hunger in South Africa.

5 Facts About Hunger in South Africa

  1. More than 6 million people in South Africa experienced hunger in 2017. In the northern region of the country called Limpopo, 93% of households had stable access to food in 2017. On the other hand, only 66.5% of households in Northern Cape had adequate access to food. The number of people who experience hunger has decreased in the last decade because of efforts made by the government. However, this data still shows the severe situation of food insecurity in South Africa.
  2. Of these 6 million people, approximately 2.5 million were children. In 2017, the majority of young children who lived in an urban area experienced hunger. Moreover, Black children are more vulnerable to hunger and poverty compared to other racial groups. Along with hunger, these kids experience severe poverty and are unable to access education and healthcare.
  3. Food insecurity has a direct association with men’s violence against their partners. A study conducted in South Africa shows that men experiencing food insecurity are more likely to be violent toward their intimate partners. Hunger and financial hardship affect people’s mental health and behaviors and, subsequently, the quality of their relationships.
  4. Recurring drought affected about 37.44 % of rural regions in South Africa. Repeating drought and flooding have damaged the ability to produce food in South Africa. These climate conditions make it difficult for poor households to produce their own food to feed themselves when they do not have enough income to buy food.
  5. The effect of COVID-19 on hunger in South Africa: The country had more than 300,000 people test positive for COVID-19 by July 18, 2020. The national lockdown and decreasing income negatively affect people’s ability to purchase food. Besides, people have little to no access to food because of the lack of an effective system for food distribution during the lockdown. Despite the government’s support for unemployed and children, more people than before are in need of support to access food.

Actions Taken by Multiple Nonprofit Organizations

Several nonprofits are taking action to address the challenges of hunger in South Africa. Food Forward SA collects surplus food from farmers and distributes them to the people in need in six regions of South Africa. Since rural areas and children are more vulnerable to food insecurity, the organization carries out the programs to provide food. Moreover, the organization has launched a Youth Internship Program. In this program, young South Africans can gain practical experience and learn about logistics and food safety.

In addition, the EACH 1 FEED 1 project by the Nelson Mandela Foundation distributes grocery items purchased by donors and financial donations to communities in need. Also, the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign tackles the systematic issues of food insecurity in the country and provides a place for other food distributing organizations to increase effectiveness and communicate with each other.

 

Although multiple nonprofit organizations and the government are working to deal with hunger in South Africa, the country still has a severe situation that requires urgent help.

– Sayaka Ojima
Photo: Flickr

Gender Inequality in Armenia
Armenia is just one of the countries around the globe that has been, and still continues to be, greatly affected by gender inequality. While women have recently been granted more rights, they are still struggling to close the gap of gender inequality in Armenia. Women struggle to keep their independence not only at home, but also in the work place where they have far less opportunity and make significantly less money than men. This gender discrepancy is especially noticeable in the rural areas of the country. Several organizations have come together to try and end this unfortunate issue.

Organizations Take Steps Towards Gender Equality

In late 2017, the organization NEF UK launched a project that will provide services focused on women’s empowerment and gender equality. NEF has recognized that when women feel empowered, they experience less violence at home and in the workplace. NEF UK hopes to help at risk women gain financial independence, while also advocating for survivors of domestic abuse.

Another organization working to end gender inequality in Armenia is UNDP Armenia. Since 1992, UNDP Armenia has created projects — such as Women in Local Democracy — to achieve the goal of giving women more of a voice when it comes to the country’s economic development. Women with more representation in the government and able to participate in decision making is huge when it comes to female empowerment. Instances such as this create an improved understanding of society, and helps women gain independence and leadership skills.

Women’s Resource Center of Armenia

Among organizations focusing on projects to end gender inequality in Armenia is the Women’s Resource Center of Armenia, the first organization of its kind in the country. Co-founded by Lara Aharonian in 2003, the company aims to create a safe space and sense of community for all women.

They offer a variety of programs, such as “No One’s Perfect,” for mothers with young children, and also hold gatherings where women can come and share their ideas and views in a protected environment. Along with advocating and supporting the women of Armenia, WRCA also works with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and offers a wide range of free resources, including language classes and job training.

Armenian Women Overcome Obstacles

In late 2017, Armenia passed a law that will criminalize domestic violence. In October of 2017, a petition addressed to the Prime Minister of Armenia was proposed on change.org. The petition received close to 3,000 signatures from people all over the world in support of this law that includes the prevention of domestic violence, and keeping past victims protected.

Women in Armenia face many challenges. With the threat of violence, and less access to high paying jobs, they are born into a society that expects them to stay home and provide for their family; they often don’t have the opportunity for much more than that. But there are many organizations and people, not just in Armenia, but all over the world, that are in support of the empowerment of women.

Armenian women are now able to access schooling and jobs, all while residing in safer environments surrounded by people who support them. Armenia has shown growth and it’s expected that the women of the country will continue to gain empowerment and experience less inequality.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Women empowerment and employment in India
India has certainly made substantial progress in recent decades, but the country has a long way to go when it comes to women empowerment. According to a World Bank report, India ranks 120th among 131 nations in women workforce. Improving women empowerment and employment in India are very important steps in achieving a poverty-free country.

Education

India ranks 38th among the 51 developing countries in female literacy rates. Forty eight percent of females in India have attended till 5th standard, out of which only 15 percent of females who attended second standard are literate.

India falls short in female literacy rates in comparison to neighboring states like Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh; fortunately, though, the government is taking significant actions. To provide better education for the women, especially for the tagged “below poverty-level” families, the government has made concession packages on free books, uniforms, clothing and midday meals.

An article from the a 2016 Economic Times article states that “32 educational institutes have been built in villages of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.” Things cannot change in one go, but efforts are being made to increase women literacy rates, which are crucial to women empowerment and employment in India.

Domestic Violence

India is not the only nation with frequent stories of domestic violence — it happens all around the world. The only feature that sets India apart from other countries is that most women in India suffer in silence. According to a study done by ICRW, 52 percent of women have experienced violence in their entire lifetime, and 60 percent of men admitted acting violently against their partners.

The rate of reported incidents have increased in 2013 than 2003 and reporting is higher in areas where women are more educated and vocal. Varsha Sharma, senior police officer in Crime Against Women cell in Delhi said, “it’s a good thing that the number of cases is consistently rising because it means that women are refusing to suffer in silence.”

Employment

The Labor Force participation rate has declined from 42 percent (1993-94) to 31 percent (2011-12). Nearly 20 million Indian women quit work between 2011/12 and May 2014. The predictable reasons for this occurrence have always been patriarchy, marriage, motherhood, late nighttime schedules and security.

The female participation rates have been dropping since 2005, despite having 42 percent of women graduates per graduating cycle. As article from Hindustan Times says, “Women want to work but there are not enough jobs being created.”

According to BBC news, another possible reason for this drop in employment could be the recent expansion of secondary education; that is, women opting to continue studies rather than join work. At the same time, getting a higher education also does not ensure that women will eventually go to work.

Ela Bhatt, Indian Co-operative organizer and activist, states a very important fact: “Employment is empowering. It helps women to develop their identity and when they become organized they build up courage and confidence to talk to the police, the courts, banks or their husbands as equals.”

Gender Equality

India ranks fifth among all the nations in regard to skewed ratio of girls to boys. Gender discrimination begins at a very young age and starts, in fact, right from the beginning because of cultural preference for having a son rather than a daughter.

USAID, India and its partners are promoting programs of gender equality in the fields of food security, clean energy and environment, education, sanitation and health care. The outcome of these efforts was that 2.5 million girls and boys received equal attention and opportunity in classrooms.

India may be significantly behind in growth prospects with two thirds of women not working, so improving women empowerment and employment in India is very important to acquiring a more prosperous nation.

– Shweta Roy
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