Empowering girls and women: get the picture!

05 December 2014

It’s still on! The 16-day campaign calling for a world free from violence against women and girls continues until next Wednesday. If you haven’t yet had a look at here, please do.

As we said before, however, it’s not just a 16-day event. We hope the effects of the campaign will continue indefinitely, encouraging a genuine desire to make the lives of women better because, as we have also said, sometimes it isn’t about actual violence but less obviously hurtful injustices like restricting access to jobs, education and economic empowerment.

That’s why much of our work is focused on supporting girls and women throughout their lives. This, of course, includes the Girls for Girls programme and the Alternative Rite of Passage, which we discussed in our last blog. However, in these pages you’ll find many other examples of work that, while perhaps less newsworthy than the UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign, could lengthen women’s lives, improve their health and enhance their economic circumstances.

For example, we focus on communities in an area of Kenya where many babies die before the age of two, clean water is hard to find and fuel for cooking involves walking long distances. Friends Of Londiani has been working with people in these communities since 2002 to improve access to health, education and water and to support a climate of economic empowerment that will create lasting, sustainable changes to their lives. This especially applies to women. We focus on maternal health training and information for community health workers, access to better sanitation in schools, a healthier cooking environment, and lifeskills courses covering such areas as HIV and AIDS, maternal health, nutrition, sexuality, family planning, mental health, and drugs and addiction.

But we’re not just focusing on life as it is but also as it could be. Education bursaries and microfinance for small businesses are part of what we do. And we have seen it working. More choice, more information, a healthier environment and educational empowerment really can extend and improve the lives of women.

Stopping violence against women is an aim we can all aspire to. But we at Friends of Londiani know that it’s not an end in itself. Promoting a healthier, fairer world with real opportunities will also benefit women and through them, families and whole communities.

So fundamental is this theme to our work that the 2015 Friends of Londiani calendar focuses on how girls and women are supported through our community development programmes and why that is so important. This calendar is informative, uplifting and, we think, beautifully designed. So if you want to spread the word about empowering girls and women so that they can have better lives, and you’re looking for a useful present for someone this Christmas, help them get the picture — or pictures — about what Friends of Londiani is doing. And let’s look forward to a Happy New Year for women everywhere.