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Stories of #GoodChange

March 2021

On the 8th of March, International Women's Day comes 'round again.

Currently, about half the world population is female. So whether it be a family relative, teacher, co-worker or neighbour, it’s a sure fact that practically everyone in the world knows a woman. However, it wasn’t until less than a century ago that women first achieved rights that enabled them to have freer and more active roles in society. 

In Australia for instance, despite being one of the first countries in the world as a whole to give women the right to vote and stand in Parliament, all that only happened in 1902…meaning that it has just been a mere 119 years since females could finally stand on the same stage as their male counterparts and have a voice in politics. 

Unfortunately, even though many nations worldwide have made significant progress towards gender equality, many developing countries across the globe remain rigid in their policies that limit the role of women in society. Not only that, but it also endangers them to all sorts of physical and sexual violence.

The United Nations reports that a large majority of the female population in the Latin American and Caribbean region encounter limitations on a daily basis. For example, 1 in 4 female adolescents are living in rural or poverty-stricken areas don’t attend school and are primarily tasked with domestic chores. They are also statistically more likely to engage in early marriages and are ranked the second highest rates of adolescent pregnancy in the world. A devastating 40% of girls will be victims of violence.

It’s a sobering reality. But that’s one of the reasons as to why International Women’s Day exists. It is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women while fighting for awareness of what’s really going on in communities – and gradually these past few years, giant leaps for womankind have been made!

The theme for 2021 is an inspirational call to change that announces to the world that women can, in fact, ‘#Choose to Challenge‘. 

According to the official International Women’s Day website:

“International Women’s Day is not country, group, nor organization specific. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network, or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.”

But what's Good Neighbours Australia doing?

Here at Good Neighbours Australia, we have set our sights on closing the gap in gender equality everyday; not just on International Women’s Day. One of our core missions is to create opportunities for girls and women to grow in their respective societies.

Take a look at our Hope Letters campaign. Organised and launched by our sister organisation Good Neighbors Canada in 2019, this initiative aims to provide an education for disadvantaged children in Bangladesh.

Mina, a 9-year-old girl living in a shared house together with her parents and five other families in the slum area, was the recipient of the letters. On top of working at a tobacco factory, she was also raising her 7-year-old brother at the time. Mina’s dream is to become a teacher, but her situation meant she could not receive an education. Children in Bangladesh and especially young girls remain trapped in a poverty cycle and cannot achieve their full potential.

Good Neighbors’ worldwide campaigns aim at breaking this cycle of poverty and be an advocate for gender equality in local communities. Our community development projects in more than 40 partner countries help children and families focus on this. The donations raised from several fundraising offices including Australia are pooled into a project fund, where tailored projects are conducted to resolve the issue at a community level.

This International Women’s Day is a time to commemorate the hardships endured, celebrate successes, and to respect the journey that women have faced throughout the decades. We’ve come a long way, and are undoubtedly on track to continue navigating our way towards harmony. Let’s keep moving forward – for a more peaceful world.