The children on the frontline of the fight against gender inequality

The children on the frontline of the fight against gender inequality
The global fight for gender equality is advancing. In South Sudan, a group of female welders who escaped conflict are defying those who told them it was ‘boy’s work’ by excelling in their new trade. While in a refugee camp in Jordan, two sisters who fled war in Syria are using music to stand up for girls’ rights.

The global fight for gender equality is advancing. In South Sudan, a group of female welders who escaped conflict are defying those who told them it was ‘boy’s work’ by excelling in their new trade. While in a refugee camp in Jordan, two sisters who fled war in Syria are using music to stand up for girls’ rights.

These incredible stories are especially inspiring at a time when women and girls continue to face discrimination, inequality and oppression in many parts of the world.

One in four girls are married before the age of 18 in low-resourced countries, cutting off their independence and ability to forge their own path. Women and girls also do three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men, curbing their economic potential. And 120 million adolescent girls have experienced rape or other forms of sexual violence at certain points in their lives.

The challenges and suffering experienced by women and girls around the world makes for difficult reading. However many are fighting to overcome damaging, restrictive cultural norms, to give themselves more freedom, greater equality, and stand up against systemic oppression.

<p>Tina* (left) wants to start a welding business with her friend Maisie* (right) and finish her schooling so she can study medicine and become a doctor</p>

Tina* (left) wants to start a welding business with her friend Maisie* (right) and finish her schooling so she can study medicine and become a doctor

Tina* from Lakes State, South Sudan, is one of them. When she heard about Save the Children’s Youth Livelihoods Programme, which provides young people with essential training, education and vocational skills, she was keen to register so she could train as a welder. At the time people tried to put her off, saying it was a job for a boy and would be too hard, but she refused to be discouraged.

Now, as her friend and fellow welder Maisie* explains, their gender-challenging vocation has not only been accepted, but is being lauded by those around them.

“I have become a role model,” she says. “It’s a source of pride for my whole family that I am one of only two welding girls in the community. Hopefully more will join next year.”

<p>The students carried out a nine-month course for young people affected by conflict in South Sudan</p>

The students carried out a nine-month course for young people affected by conflict in South Sudan

Though progress is being made every day, more needs to be done. This is why Save the Children is focused on giving girls greater equality, freedom and opportunity by tackling key issues in a way that will trigger long-term change.

From supporting education and delaying marriage to providing access to healthcare and ensuring their safety and right to be heard, they can make impact that will last for generations to come.

The charity’s new Fairness Fund is crucial to this aim.

Investors to this vital initiative have the opportunity to contribute directly to campaigns that tackle gender-based injustices worldwide, with the aim of solving the root causes of exclusion, inequality and abuses of rights.

Girls are supported in building their confidence, agency and ability to advocate for their rights and take action in their communities. In particular, the charity works to ensure girls have access to education and skills, financial assets and basic equipment that will enable them to chart a new future.

The projects also enable them to train and work within stereotypically male industries to help break down barriers and widen opportunities. Empowering both individuals and communities is key to shifting attitudes, overcoming prejudice, and changing lives.

Through the Fairness Fund, investors can support sustainable initiatives like this, which build resilience and help dispel thinking and behaviour that limits and damages lives.

Changing attitudes is something that Rama*, 14, and her sister Hiba*, 17, know all about.

After they and their family fled the war in Syria, Rama was badly injured and struggled emotionally, but Hiba helped her find fresh hope through writing and music. Now the sisters have vowed to “fight the world to stop child marriage”, using rap to spread this crucial message.

<p>Hiba, 17, and Rama, 14, perform to a group of children in Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, Jordan</p>

Hiba, 17, and Rama, 14, perform to a group of children in Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, Jordan

Hiba says they have been making impact around Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, where they live. “Many grown-ups believe in child marriage,” says Hiba. “And after many attempts to change their views, some were convinced. Their mindsets have changed.”

Rama agrees. “It’s common that children learn from adults, but nowadays things have changed – adults should learn from children,” she explains. “I believe we have so much to show them.”

The sisters have also enrolled in Save the Children and Arsenal’s Coaching for Life programme, which helps give children the opportunity and tools to reach their full potential and empowers them to stand up for their rights.

The charity’s goal is to support those most impacted by inequality and discrimination – the hardest to reach, those least likely to survive, learn and be protected.

Tackling the root causes of girls’ exclusion and disempowerment within this context is not easy. But with sustained effort and investment, progress can be made, and lives can be changed.

How you can help

  • There are meaningful ways you can contribute to making the world fairer for all children

  • Invest in the Fairness Fund today and help make a difference that lasts a lifetime

  • Visit Save the Children’s Fairness Fund website to learn more

*Children’s names have been changed to keep them safe.

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