Women's rights and gender equality
Getting girls into school
Education isn’t a privilege, it’s a right. But 32 million girls are still missing out on school and with it, the chance of a better future.
There are lots of reasons why girls don’t go to school, or have to drop out. Parents often struggle to meet the costs, such as books and uniforms. Girls are often expected to support their families instead, either by working or through arranged marriage. In some countries, female genital mutilation is very common and often means the girl doesn’t return to school as she will be forced into early marriage and become a young mother instead.
Sometimes schools don’t have proper facilities like separate, safe toilets for girls. And even the journey to school can be dangerous – girls are at risk of being attacked, raped or abducted.
So we work with communities to promote education for girls, help parents afford the costs, build better school buildings and toilet facilities, and run girls’ clubs to support them through school.
Helping women earn a living
Many women don’t have the skills they need to earn an income. In some cultures, they are not allowed to work or own land or property so they have to depend on male family members for survival. And if they do work, they’re paid less than men for the same number of hours, have no rights and often face harassment.
We help women get fair wages and a safe environment to work in. We offer women training in the skills they need to survive – skills like fishing, sewing, business, or sustainable farming techniques. This is so that they can earn a living, feed themselves and pay for their children’s education.
Ending violence against women and girls
One in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Many women and girls living in poverty are threatened with violence every day: at home, at school, at work, on the streets, and on public transport.
Violence against women is often considered acceptable, and offenders aren’t punished. This means there is often nowhere that women and girls can truly feel safe or get help.
We’re helping women and girls to tackle violence and stand up for their rights. We provide services and demand justice for survivors of violence, and support programmes to empower women. We also train local community volunteers to stop female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, and tackle sexual and domestic violence and child abduction.
Supporting women affected by disasters
When a disaster strikes, our experience shows that it is women who are hit hardest and are the worst affected.
During conflict, or after a natural disaster like an earthquake or flood, it's even harder for women to get food, clean water and shelter, and to take care of their children. Menstruation and pregnancy make women and girls more vulnerable to infection and health risks, and in the days and weeks after an initial emergency, sexual violence against women and girls often increases.
So we provide emergency food and shelter, and ensure that women’s specific needs are met – from giving out sanitary towels to setting up special tents for women to look after their children and protect them from violence.
We put women at the front of our emergency response work, as often they know what their families and communities need the most. So they're the best people to influence decisions about how to rebuild their communities and prepare for future disasters.
You may also be interested in…
ActionAid's work preventing FGM.
Celebrating International Day of the Girl.
Keeping girls safe from harm.