This year International Women’s Day (IWD) holds the theme ‘connecting girls, inspiring futures’, with the aim of bringing together as many young women as possible through an array of global events, and inspiring them to continue to drive forward female achievement and empowerment.
This day provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the achievements of inspirational women, whose legacies have challenged and shaped the way we perceive the place of women in society. We may think of names such as Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), the British suffragette who dedicated her life to the promotion of women’s rights; Mother Theresa (1910-1997), who devoted her entire life to the service of the poor and dispossessed in Calcutta and who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1979; or Rosa Parks (1913-2005), whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man led to some of the most significant civil rights legislation in American history.
Gender inequality: Women and Poverty
Whilst IWD aims to celebrate huge advancements in the push for female empowerment and gender equality, it also serves to highlight the continuing presence of gender inequality that exists largely in the developing world.
Statistics show that around 1.3 billion people (world population 6.7 billion) live in extreme poverty, of which two-thirds are women. Gender inequality has resulted in girls being denied an education, women suffering domestic violence, and women dying needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth due to inadequate healthcare.
Effects of Deforestation
As women are those most affected by poverty, they are also more likely to be affected by environmental problems such as deforestation which is having a big impact on the livelihoods of communities which depend on agriculture for survival. For example in Haiti, the level of deforestation is around 97%, causing huge amounts of top soil erosion each year which drastically lowers the productivity of the land, worsens droughts and eventually leads to desertification of the land. Desertification renders the land useless for agriculture, yet two-thirds of Haiti’s population depends on agriculture to make a living.
Collecting basic necessities such as firewood and water are duties that usually befall women and girls in the developing world. Reduction in forest cover means that they have to walk further and further every day just to survive. In celebration of IWD, CARE International is running the Walk In Her Shoes campaign to highlight this issue and how poverty disproportionately affects women.
ITF also address these issues by funding a series of projects around Africa that support, and promote greater equality for, women and girls through various sustainable forestry initiatives. You can help support these projects and others like them by getting involved with our work