International Women's Day: 10 ways to make a difference

March 8 is International Women’s Day. Here are 10 very real ways you can make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged women.

For many Australians the significance of International Women's Day is tied in to concepts of inequality in the workplace and pay gaps. For women in other corners of the globe the issues run much deeper with women facing illiteracy, health issues and discrimination.

If International Women’s Day inspires you to want to help women in need, but you’re not sure how you can help, below are 10 very real ways you can make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged women.

1) Help women in India learn English
You may not be a teacher, but as a fluent English speaker, you have the ability to impart your knowledge to women in India, teaching them the English language and opening up a world of job opportunities that require this skill. English is such a sought-after language that many jobs, especially in tourist areas, insist on it and for women who never had the chance to learn at school, this is a tool that is invaluable to them.

2) Educate young women in Fiji about sexual health
There are some lessons we learn from our mothers and others from high-school health class – with Dolly Doctor filling in the rest of the blanks but in places where sexual health is taboo, the most basic information from periods to pregnancy is unknown and misunderstood. Even for those who have been through it! By assisting with sexual health classes you can help give young women more control and understanding over their own bodies.

3) Help build real toilet facilities within high-schools in Nepal
Remember how awkward puberty was? Imagine going to a school where there are no proper toilets at a time when privacy is paramount. Disgusting amenities and lack of privacy at schools in places like Nepal can lead to teenage girls quitting school when they reach that delicate age due to pure embarrassment. By assisting professional builders to install decent toilet blocks in schools, you’re offering a practical and simple step that will help more young women receive an education.

4) Impart your business skills and work experience on women in South Africa
No matter your level of business knowledge, if you know how to use a computer and perhaps have office experience, you can work with women in South Africa teaching them the basics of business so they can consider building a micro-business to generate income. Teach them to take their talents in crafts and cooking and turn them into viable, money-making opportunities.

5) Teach ‘hard skills’ to women to make them more employable
While in the Western world, we might feel that on International Women’s Day, teaching women to use sewing machines is a backward step, but for women in more disadvantaged countries, by giving them valuable skills such as sewing, you are helping make them more employable and also provide them with options for opening their own micro-business. For many women who have been taught their only option is as a mother and wife, learning a skill such as this opens doors they never thought possible.

6) Introduce women in Fiji to the basics of wellness
We’re not talking Pilates and green juices here, but for many women in places like Fiji, there is limited knowledge on the importance of nutrition and exercise. You can help educate women on eating a balanced diet which includes fruit and vegetables and getting out and moving!
Run casual aerobics classes and teach them how to cook basic healthy recipes, getting them to think about how they treat their bodies.

7) Start the conversation about equality
There is no denying that this is a beast of a topic but by helping run Conversation Clubs you can get the conversation started with both boys and girls about breaking down stereotypes of gender. Let them see that females can play sport, work outside the home and be an equal part of society.

8) Educate women on the ins and outs of having children
While women all around the world can fall pregnant, there are important facts that women in some communities are not aware of, making pregnancy and having children a more dangerous venture than it necessarily needs to be. By providing insight into how people fall pregnant (or prevent themselves falling pregnant), how to take care of themselves through all stages of the pregnancy as well as post-natal care you can actually help improve family health and reduce infant and child mortality rates.

9) Build women’s self-esteem in India and help out in a self-defence class
Sometimes something as simple as joining together with other young women and girls and talking about issues they are facing can work towards building someone’s self-esteem. Focusing on the positives, strength, inner beauty and intelligence will have a positive effect. In a more practical step, being involved in self-defence classes for women can help build their confidence and give them skills to cope in difficult situations.

10) Be a positive role model as an independent woman who works, travels and makes her own choices
Sometimes by just bringing stories and positivity from your own world, no matter how far-removed  from their own lives they may be, it provides a window to these women that there are females around the world who have careers, who are mothers, who make money and stand equally with their male counterparts. It may be a long path for them to achieve the same level of equality but the first step is them believing they deserve it.

For Australians interested in helping women across any of these areas, find out more at gviaustralia.com.au

Top Image Credit: paul prescott / Shutterstock.com

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