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Friday Musings - International Women's Day

by Yvonne DiVita on Behalf of International Women's Day 2013


Heifer International, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty, shares ways readers can “take action” during International Women’s Day (that would be today folks) via the Heifer International’s IWD page. 

In Heifer projects around the world, women are the backbone of agriculture and the key driver of food production. One way Heifer is helping to end poverty is by providing women in impoverished communities with the assistance, tools and training to enhance food production and build sustainable assets and income.

The impact these women-driven projects has is truly remarkable. By placing animal and knowledge assets directly into the hands of women farmers, Heifer International has empowered them to quickly convert these gifts into food and income-generating enterprises so that they can send their children to school, pay medical bills and lift themselves out of poverty. Though women own less than one percent of the earth’s land, they produce a staggering 80 percent of the developing world’s food. There’s no development strategy more beneficial to society than one involving women as central players, and at the same time engages men to encourage a more accepting view of women’s participation.


Below are some ways your readers can help – by donating to the cause or bringing awareness on their social network during #IWD:

  • GIVE: The below gifts from Heifer International will truly make a difference for women.
    • Start a Women’s Self-Help Group ($72): Literacy rates among women in many parts of the world are very low. Your gift will help women start a self-help group where they can learn to read, and receive the livestock and training that will empower them to reduce their vulnerability to domestic violence, trafficking and health-related issues.
    • Send a Girl to School($275): This gift will provide a family with training and livestock so they can earn the income needed to pay for their daughter’s school fees and supplies. Girls often suffer the most from gender discrimination, and when resources are limited, they are the ones denied the opportunity to go to school in favor of their brothers.
    • The Gift of Women’s Empowerment ($10,000): This gift provides Heifer training and assistance so that mothers will be able to work and become self-sufficient. They will be able to afford to send their children to school, pay medical bills and, most importantly, will give women a way to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. 


The below two stories are just some of the many we can share—we can also provide photos, videos and more information to complement your coverage: 

  • NEPAL: At the young age of 14, Dhankumari Lama, who is now 20, had to leave school because her parents didn’t have the financial means for her education and she was expected to marry. At age 16, she became the youngest member of Heifer’s self-help group for women where she was encouraged by the 25 other participants to pursue her passion for reading and writing. In fact, they helped her raise enough money—supplementing money from the milk she sold from the goats Heifer provided her—to enroll in a local school and continue her education. Today she’s pursuing an intermediate degree in business—something once unheard of for women in her village. 
  • CAMBODIA: Orphaned Mao Kunthea had to drop out of school because of poverty—like many impoverished women, she married young and then moved into the home of her husband’s family. Her new “family” was far from supportive—they ridiculed her and dismissed her as a weak and dependent woman. She was confined to household chores with no interaction with the outside world. In 2011, Kunthea joined Heifer’s self-help group with 27 other women in her village—she also received seeds, two pigs (and she now sells their piglets for extra income) and agricultural training. The women’s group elected her to be a secretary and a literacy facilitator. Her newfound skills and confidence led to acknowledgment from the local government because she shared best practices for health and agriculture with the greater community. In fact, she is looking forward to a leadership role when a new agricultural cooperative is established in her community—a role that certainly defies the odds against her.


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