Today, we want to celebrate one of our amazing supporters, Anna Rust. Anna is a sponsor and a fierce believer in the ripple effect of empowering women. We asked Anna to speak about how supporting women away from home can impact women everywhere.
No matter where you are in the world, you can find women subjected to some form of inequality. There are countries where the gender pay gap is stubbornly wide, others where simply being allowed to drive is a feminist victory, and then there are those where every day is a struggle to survive.
Worthy battles are being fought the world over — not one country has achieved gender equality, according to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Chief, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Gender Index further claims no country will achieve it in the next ten years, either.
So, what should your focus be? The misogyny and sexism women experience on a daily basis in your neighbourhood, or the plight of women in war torn countries?
What if I were to tell you they were linked?
A couple years ago I met with the Women for Women International team at their UK headquarters. As you probably already know, the charity helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives. By teaching these women marketable job skills, empowering them and providing a network that supports them, they can move forward during incredible hardships. Their work is critical to fighting gender inequality in a way that most people don’t even consider.
Sponsoring a sister sounded like the least I could do, and I signed up. But before I was even matched with a sister, the efforts of the on-the-ground team were enough to move me. Seeing them work to improve the lives of their programme participants, learning from the wonderful Brita Fernandez Schmidt on social media and participating in their #MessageToMySister campaign did so much more than just give me hope for the women they were working with; it gave me the motivation to improve the lives of women at home as well. Here was a group of incredible campaigners and supporters who were dedicating their lives to improving the conditions of others; if they can change the world, then I can do my part too.
The empowerment of women around the world lifts us all up. I’m not going to pretend the #MessageToMySister letters we write provide more than a few words of comfort; but sometimes that’s enough, especially when help is given in other areas. And other times, your hard work in speaking up for those who need it the most can inspire and help someone you weren’t even intending to reach.
I see it as a domino effect, but the domino’s path actually splits. One strand is the continuing work Women for Women International are doing, helping survivors of war across the globe and combating gender inequality. The other is their work inspiring others to do the same, even if it is just at home, on a much smaller scale.
So if you find yourself questioning which to focus on — helping women here, or those further afield — please know, you are achieving both simultaneously. The only way we are going to improve conditions for all women is together, and that means lifting each other up, at home or overseas, anywhere it’s necessary, one woman at a time.
And I’ll leave you with one more thing: if you can, please consider sponsoring a sister. For £22 a month, you’ll be paired with an inspiring woman who will change your perspective on everything.
"Building a personal connection with my sponsor sister, Amela, became a source of strength for me." Our Executive Director, Brita Fernandez Schmidt shares the story of meeting her first sponsor sister and the very real impact of our programme.
As she prepares to graduate from our programme in Nigeria, Saratu’s future looks bright - despite the challenges of a global pandemic.
Three recommendations to preserve progress and address ongoing challenges to women's rights in conflict settings.