Have you heard about the winners of this years Nobel Peace Prize? Three inspiring women: Yemeni journalist and human rights activist, Tawakkol Karman, the first elected female President in Africa, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Liberian author and peace activist, Leymah Gbowee.
These extraordinary women have just been recognised for their "non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work".
When awarding them, the Nobel Committee Chairman said: "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women achieve the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society".
For me, in reflecting on our work in developing contexts, this statement is undoubtedly true. Unless women are afforded the same rights, opportunities and status as men, little will change in many of the countries we work in.
Unfortunately, in many regions, women are treated as second-class citizens and are not given the same dignity and value as men. I have personally witnessed the impacts of this injustice through the stories of women who have endured abuse, rape and ongoing violence.
In spite of this, women like the Nobel Peace Prize winners remain amazingly resilient. Their lives are a testament to the strength of the human spirit amidst injustice and inequality. Through them, we can see the importance of investing in empowering women. Ultimately, this is what will bring real peace.
We want to honour the incredible efforts of these women and join them in working to address issues of peace, rights and security. In our work we seek to ensure women and girls are able to access their rights, and we focus on key areas including:
- preventing violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, rape and female genital mutilation/cutting
- responding to the issue of human trafficking,
- promoting the protection of the most vulnerable, including women and girls, in situations of conflict and natural disasters.
- working to ensure that survivors of violence can access health, counselling and legal services
- raising awareness of these issues through advocacy at both national and community level, in order to empower women and help them recognise their rights.
We know that empowering women makes a difference to the well-being of their communities, and as such, we focus on education for girls. Study after study has proven that education for girls translates to better health outcomes (for example, delayed marriage and having children at a later date), improved economic outcomes, and better education opportunities for their children.Michelle Lokot, World Vision’s Gender Advisor