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Together, we can create a better world: Women’s leadership here and abroad

Ever since the pandemic began over a year and a half ago, more and more consideration has been given to the ways it has exacerbated social inequalities. Like all crises, whether related to health, climate or the economy, marginalized groups bear the brunt of their impacts, including women.

Cases of intimate partner violence have risen sharply since the beginning of the pandemic in Kenya, according to Virginia Nduta, Executive Director of Women’s Empowerment Link (WEL) and Equitas partner.

Every day, Virginia works with women whose rights have been violated and who struggle to be heard, in part due to a lack of representation among political decision makers. Women hold only 9% of the seats in Kenya’s government, excluding them from participation in the political decision-making processes that directly affect them, such as those around intimate partner violence.

Virginia Nduta, Executive Director of Women’s Empowerment Link (WEL) and Equitas partner.

This is why Virginia chose to dedicate a significant part of her life to “supporting women’s movements that work to counter the gender norms that perpetuate violence.” Equitas is working with Virginia and WEL to implement the Advancing Equality Through Human Rights Education project in Kenya, which seeks to increase women’s participation on local decision-making bodies.

Thanks to training and coaching activities using a human rights-based approach, WEL and Equitas have succeeded in increasing the number of women holding leadership positions in their communities. With a growing number of women now sitting at the table, they also have growing influence over the decisions made to combat gender inequality, including the issue of intimate partner violence.

However, social change must go further than political decision-making. Women also have the power to act in their daily lives. Through a better understanding of their rights, women can take actions to better defend them and make decisions that can improve their conditions. This is why WEL and Equitas work to develop a broad understanding of human rights and empower women.

I didn’t know that, as a woman, I have the same rights as a man [….] Participation in this training opened my eyes and helped me to start making decisions with a longer-term perspective, both for myself and my children. I didn’t realize that, as a woman, I have the right to own the things I want and that the law will protect me. After their training, I made the decision to go to the market and buy a small cow. Now, I hope to buy a parcel of land for my family.

― Participant in Kenya

You don’t need to be in a decision making position to be a changemaker. There are so many different ways to fight against social inequalities and get involved in making positive changes. Each year, Equitas supports hundreds of young people across Canada, giving them the tools and resources they need to develop projects with a social impact.

Equitas supports youth-led community action projects that seek to fight racism and gender inequalities to create more inclusive communities. This year, more than 600 young people collaborated with Equitas to carry out projects on issues that are important to them. Young women came together to create inclusive platforms to raise awareness and educate the public about discrimination experienced by women of colour, to write open letters denouncing the impact of sexism and gender stereotypes in schools, or to create murals to promote gender equality. These are just a few examples that illustrate the power of young women to initiate social change.

We are here and we are advocating on behalf of all youth who are experiencing bullying and racism… we are letting the community know that this is happening in Canada, not only to youth but to everyone. 

– Young leader making a presentation to a city council

In the context of an ongoing pandemic that has exacerbated both inequalities and discrimination, Equitas and its partners are redoubling their efforts to support women both locally and abroad as they work to change not only their own lives, but the lives of women throughout their communities.

You can also act to help create a better world.

A donation to Equitas is a contribution to fighting against gender inequality and racism while encouraging women to defend their rights here in Canada and around the world.