Today is International Women’s Day. The commemoration happens 8 March with a different focus each year. Last year’s focus was to Pledge for Parity. As the gender gap is not predicted to close until 2186, this year’s theme seems fitting to take action. Be Bold for Change. By now, you’ve probably seen the hashtag on every social media platform (including ours), but what does it actually mean?
While trendy hashtags may come and go, the hope is that their impact will resonate, and be put into practice. That is the exact goal of the #BeBoldForChange campaign.
Pledging to Be Bold for Change is pledging to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. This means reaching further than typing a hashtag. We’re doing just that at International Refugee Trust.
How are IRT Being Bold for Change?
IRT partners with a local community based organisation, Organisation for Community Action (OCA) in Lira District, Uganda. OCA runs the StepUp programme, which you can read more about here. Traditional Ugandan culture calls for women to stay at home so they can cook, clean and raise their children. OCA recognises that not only is this detrimental to the economy, it is simply unfair and unjust to prevent women from doing work outside the home.
Part of the StepUp programme trains communities to understand the benefits of a healthy, cooperative relationship between husband and wife, as well as the importance of treating all women as equal members of society. OCA has to ‘Be Bold for Change’ when implementing this training, because it challenges tradition, but they know it is essential for a better community.
Shifting the mind set of entire communities is a tough task, but OCA are doing really well. Families now support children’s education, especially girls. Before StepUp training, providing girls access to education was not something families prioritised. Now most children attend primary school thanks to the training.
OCA recognises that not all education is accessible to the communities. Especially secondary school.
OCA had to come up with a different approach to tackle low enrolment rates in secondary school. Since the tuition is more expensive, it will take StepUp parents longer to save funds. In the meantime, to encourage attendance, and to show that secondary education is possible, OCA has created a scholarship programme where they support a certain number of students to attend secondary school. The girls who attend secondary school see the opportunities they now have thanks to an education, and they serve as inspiration to the other young girls in the villages.
OCA and IRT will never stop ‘Being Bold for Change’ and it shows in the success the StepUp programme has!
How will you ‘Be Bold for Change’?