International Women’s Day
It’s International Women’s day – across the globe, women still suffer from inequality, violence, and oppression. Many women find their opportunities limited and their potential stifled. However, we remain hopeful about the global progress we have made towards equity and improved opportunities for women to live happy, healthy, successful lives.
And the reality is hopeful: in Ghana and Nigeria, women are creating businesses at a faster rate than men; women-led tech firms are earning more and working more efficiently; women are creating businesses and jobs all over the world.
The challenges women face in doing so are systemic and pervasive, but not insurmountable. We’ve seen entrepreneurs like Josefina Vicente of Maliana, Bobonaro, who started a small business just two years after Timor-Leste voted for independence and moved into the construction and hospitality sectors, running hotels and coordinating water supply and drainage systems.
It’s important to us that we help women like Josefina gain access to business opportunities to grow their local economies, because we believe that doing so will bring greater economic equality and socioeconomic stability to the lives of women. One of the best ways of doing that is supporting businesses owned and managed by women: currently, we are conducting a nationwide survey of the economic participation of women in Afghanistan. We are interviewing companies owned and managed by women so we can better understand the challenges they face and the opportunities they have access to. We also plan to collect more data about these enterprises so that we can help connect them to new buyers and networks to succeed. To that end, we held a networking event on March 5th and 6th for 45 civil society organizations working to promote and protect the rights of Afghans. The event gave organizations that work in human rights and women’s rights the opportunity to connect, share experiences, and further develop the partnerships they have been creating since October.
Supporting these organisations is important to us because basic rights for women area also under threat globally; in order for economic gains to be ultimately sustainable or effective, ensuring that women are free from violence and have basic human rights is fundamental. This is why the work of Afghan civil society organizations working in human rights and women’s rights is also important. For economic gains to take hold, we must also push for societal and legal gains.