International Women’s Day: #BalanceforBetter
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8 is #BalanceforBetter. At Extreme Response, we enthusiastically support helping women worldwide.
According to the International Women’s Day Website, the event was first recognized in 1908 and is now a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
We’ve witnessed first-hand how women unfairly shoulder the burden of poverty. Throughout the world, women frequently care for children who otherwise would be abandoned. Too often, women end up being the sole parent, breadwinner and caregiver for their children.
So what is ER doing about this disparity? This year we’ve taken our own bold step by making Women’s Empowerment one of our four primary initiatives (Orphans & Vulnerable Children, Educational Access and Leadership Development are the others). In 2019 and the years ahead, we are committed to empowering at-risk women with our programming, partners and resources. Following is a quick snapshot at what we’re doing today.
Quito Dump Community
For the last 20 years in Ecuador, we’ve reached out to women and their families who glean their livelihood by recycling items from the trash. This includes women who work as recyclers at the Zambiza Garbage Transfer Station (i.e. Quito Dump) and those who recycle in the streets.
The work is arduous, dangerous and extremely low paying. Recyclers collect glass, metal, cardboard and plastics to sell to dealers. Their wages provide barely enough to survive. These women face injury, violence, poverty and social disparagement as they simply try to provide for their families.
We are helping these women escape these conditions by providing education, nutrition, exercise, skills training and micro-business support.
Mercedes and Mariana, have work as a recyclers for many years to support their family. Recently, they learned to make handcrafted goods and sell them to earn extra money. They also now do cleaning work part-time at a local gym. Today. they have profound hope that her family’s future is bright.
ER serves more than 70 women each week by providing programming that takes place at the Quito Family Resource Center. Many of their kids are enrolled in our Quito After-School Program. Because their children will be educated they will have life options that stretch beyond recycling. Read more about the sisters ands other women here.
Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program
In the Philippines, ER Asia is reaching out to women who are living in impoverished situations. We determined that many of the women suffer from low skills and education, and often feel hopeless to improve their circumstances.
To combat this, we formed the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program. Each year we identify a group of at-risk women and teach them job skills and more.
Take Sally, who is one of seven women currently enrolled in the Golden Hands Basic Sewing course. Before joining the group, Sally’s confidence and sense of worth were desperately low.
Through the Golden Hands group training, that is all changing. Sally has bonded with the other women and gained a great deal of self-confidence through these relationships. Not only has she found a source of peace in her life, she’s learning sewing skills that will allow her to save money on her kids’ school uniforms. Sally has a newfound joy and optimism. Read more about Sally and other members of Golden Hands here.
Helping to Rescue and Restore the Victims of Human Trafficking
There is no tragedy greater than the manipulation and enslavement of vulnerable people, often young women and girls by human traffickers. ER has partners dedicated to fighting this scourge with frontline intervention, rescue, restoration, skills training and counseling.
While nearly all of our 30 partners focus on the plight of women or their children, partners in Nepal, Ecuador and South Africa are are heavily focused on rescuing and restoring women who have been victims of human trafficking. Often, these partners face overt danger from traffickers as they help women heal. Rescuing and restoring women, often young girls, is bold and courageous work. Hence, we seek to do more to support these partners through the Empowerment Fund. Learn more about our anti-trafficking efforts here.
Our Vision For Empowering Women
Our vision is to help women escape the cycle of poverty, abuse, neglect and oppression by empowering them through education, skills and opportunities. This requires well-trained staff, volunteers and partners, as well as financial resources. We are constantly improving our staff-led programs and assessing the work our partners are doing globally to help at-risk women.