5 Organizations That Empower Women
Women’s empowerment in the developing world is a major tool that countries can use to alleviate socioeconomic issues like poverty and corruption. Here are the top five organizations that empower women.

5 Organizations That Empower Women

  1. Women’s Global Empowerment Fund
    The Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF) is an organization committed to creating opportunities and addressing inequality, strengthening communities and families and using political, social and economic programs to support women. WGEF’s programs provide frameworks for women to create opportunities for themselves at the grassroots level. As of January 2017, WGEF’s Credit Plus Program provided more than 10,000 microcredit loans, which help women create and expand sustainable, viable businesses in developing countries. That same year, many of the WGEF’s clients applied for their fourth or fifth loans to further grow their businesses. Since its inception, WGEF’s literacy program reached more than 1,500 women in rural or poor communities, and 416 women were reached in 2016 alone. The literacy program takes place twice a week over the course of six months and costs $80 per person annually. Ten of WGEF’s clients, many of whom benefitted from the literacy program, ran for local and regional offices during national elections in 2016.
  2. Panzi Hospital
    Panzi Hospital is located in Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since its founding in 1999, it has served as a general hospital for local residents. Still, the hospital has become a well-known organization that empowers women because of its efforts to help victims of sexual violence and women suffering from complicated gynecological issues. Panzi Hospital is now comprised of four departments: obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, internal medicine and pediatrics. In 2012, the team at Panzi Hospital implemented a project to provide cervical cancer screenings to patients, the first of its kind in the region. Patients at Panzi Hospital also have access to psychological care, socioeconomic assistance and legal assistance. From 1999 to 2015, Panzi Hospital served 85,864 women. As of the end of 2015, 48,482 of the hospital’s patients were victims of some form of sexual violence. Forty to 60 percent of the women treated at Panzi Hospital cannot return to their home communities because of conflict and the stigma surrounding sexual violence and reproductive injuries. These women are housed at the hospital’s aftercare center, Maison Dorcas.
  3. Her Farm
    Her Farm is located in Nepal and supports women in the rural areas at the base of the Himalayas. The organization’s mission is to provide women with the tools they need to be self-sufficient, including access to healthcare, economic opportunities and education. Her Farm is owned and operated by women and for women; the women freely farm the land and make all the decisions regarding Her Farm themselves. Currently, Her Farm provides employment and safe living conditions for 30 women and children, and they educate 12 children daily. As a result of Her Farm’s efforts, 300 people have access to an emergency center. Annually, Her Farm has 150 visitors.
  4. Orchid Project
    Orchid Project is an organization battling female genital cutting (FGC). FGC refers to a practice that involves removing parts or all of a girl’s external genitalia, or any injuries associated with the practice. Usually, girls go through FGC before the age of five, but it can occur at any time between birth and adolescence. The practice of FGC is largely cultural; there are no religious obligations associated with FGC. Globally, the practice of FGC impacts over 200 million women and girls, with 3.9 million girls at risk annually. Today, FGC occurs in at least 45 countries worldwide. The practice is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights. Orchid Project, like other organizations that empower women, focuses on education and advocacy to eliminate FGC. The organization partners with other nonprofits like Sahiyo and Tostan on the ground in countries where FGC is still practiced to host knowledge-sharing workshops within impacted communities. This approach recognizes that FGC is a cultural phenomenon and allows the members of the community to come together and choose to abandon the practice. From 2015, Orchid Project has held 12 workshops across Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Somaliland.
  5. Equality Now
    Equality Now is committed to changing laws to promote socioeconomic change for women and girls around the world. The organization’s network of lawyers and activists are currently fighting to end female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual violence, human trafficking, child marriage and gender inequality. In 2017, 11 laws that Equality Now had been fighting for were changed or strengthened. The organization also provided training to 50 lawyers and judges and its supporters sent more than 21,300 advocacy letters.

Without empowering its women, no country can hope to eliminate issues like poverty. These 5 organizations that empower women are committed to ending inequality in the developing world.

– Shania Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Her Farm Offers Hope to Children and Women in Nepal
Women in Nepal own land and pursue new occupations. 
A small village in Nepal, Mankhu, has a unique program for women’s empowerment — Her Farm — where women are in a position to pursue their dreams, learn how to drive a motorbike, learn English, work in radio, study film and photography and so much more.


Women in Nepal

Even though the women in Nepal run the house, most women still depend on male family members for financial stability. This pattern often leaves many women unable to escape abusive circumstances and limits them from pursuing their passions.

A village program with a group of 30 people, mainly women and children, focuses on allowing women to own land and pursue their dream jobs outside of just traditionally female areas of occupation like handicrafts or food production.

The people come from very different backgrounds with some from the village, some escaping from abusive relationships and some coming from mental-health facilities or broken homes.


Violence and Gender Inequality

In a survey from the Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal in 2011, 28 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 said they had experienced violence from their partner at least once in their partnership; 14 percent had experienced it in the last year.

Women who do not have an occupation often have no choice but to stay in an abusive relationship.

The government of Nepal recognizes this problem has offered significant tax cuts if land is registered in a woman’s name, but little progress has resulted. Her Farm is responding to this issue by offering a safe place for women.

The country ranks 115th in the Gender Inequality Index by the United Nations Development Program, and child marriage also remains a problem. Her Farm provides education so all the children in the village can go to school every day.


Women Farmers

A joint program by U.N. Women and partners in Nepal has also improved women farmers’ agricultural production and income, as well as changed many of the gender-discriminatory attitudes of their male counterparts.

An irrigation system was built to bring fresh water closer to homes and water the crops through support from the Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment Joint Program and was implemented by U.N. Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme. Such developments are funded by a consortium of donors that focus on economic empowerment.

Rural women in Nepal lack recognition for their roles, making up a large proportion of the agricultural labor force and sustaining nearly 80 percent of the population.


Ending Discrimination

Women farmers face discrimination with unequal pay and lack of access to resources and markets. Fortunately, though, the narrative is changing as women’s agricultural production improves and the program increases their income, food security and independence.

As women in Nepal take up leadership positions, their children can follow their footsteps and have women to look up to as they change the climate for women in Nepal.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr