Being a parent is hard. Parenting in poverty and places of conflict can be even harder. On this Parents’ Day, we recognize, uplift, and support parents raising the future of our world. The women we serve are paving the path to equality for their children.
Usaina in Bauchi State is one such woman. Her first thought when danger came to her community was the safety of her children. After fleeing and hiding from the violence with no food or water for days, Usaina made it to safety. In her new life, she resolved to provide a secure one for her children. She worked hard through Women for Women International’s signature training program to make enough to support her family and send all of her children to school.
Saratu, also in Bauchi State, learned about gender equality through the signature program while her husband was learning about it in the Men’s Engagement Program.
“I am learning a lot from my training sessions, which have changed my outlook about some of our practices,” Saratu said.
“For example, treating my children equally regardless of gender: our traditional practices ensure that boys are taught at a very tender age that they are superior to girls because they continue the family name.
“But after my training sessions on the gender division of labor, I realized the importance of raising my son to do simple chores that make sense for his age.”
In Afghanistan, Frishta survived a lonely and abusive situation for the sake of her children. Although she was tempted to give up, she thought of her responsibility to her children and persevered. Connections, skills, and knowledge have helped her build more hope and strength, and now she feels happier and more confident — and has passed that hope to her family.
Like Usaina, Saratu, and many other women in the program, Josephine in South Sudan was displaced by conflict. Today she resides in Yei with her husband, working towards the day she can return home and restart her farm. Pictured in the header with her son, Josephine continues to invest in herself and the success of her children through lessons from the Women for Women International program:
“Business skills are my favorite topic. It has helped me to start my own business. Running my small business has enabled me to support my children in school and other needs. The training has helped me learn how to save and spend money and this has enabled me to pay my child’s school fees and secure necessities for them.”
Broadcasting Good Parenting
Through the program, women gain the business and vocational skills to financially support their family while learning practical skills to tend to their children’s health. As women learn that they are worthy and have rights, they also learn about positive parenting.
Since restarting the South Sudan program last year, the team has shared valuable lessons from the training with the broader community using radio programs, which have proven popular. Each week covers a different subject, such as health, business, or even gender roles and chores. Recently, they hosted a discussion on positive parenting.
They defined positive parenting as “a continual relationship between a parent and a child or children” and discussed the challenges parents face and the impact of different parenting styles on children.
By providing a public forum for a parenting discussion through on-air calls, people felt they could raise difficult, personal issues and find support without stirring up conflict with loved ones or neighbors. They aired out their challenges providing a guidance for children as a single parent who must spend time away from home to provide necessities. They discussed navigating the impact of relatives and friends on how children grow up. With many dangerous risks such as explosives, guns, and poor infrastructure, the discussion showed that parenting has a communal aspect and the need for people to collaborate to map risks so children could enjoy a safer environment.
Modeling Gender Equality
The South Sudan team’s broadcast stressed communicating with children – setting rules, providing rationale for decisions, and listening to them – as well as setting a good example as part of positive parenting.
One of the most effective ways to invest in the future of gender equality is through parents living it as an example for their children. Their daughters grow up with confident mothers who pass on their strength. They grow up with fathers who protect their rights. Sons see that their sisters and mothers are as capable and worthy as they are and become allies.
We invest in that future not only through mothers but by engaging fathers. Across Women for Women International’s country programs, the Men’s Engagement Program teaches men to share household responsibilities with their wives, including parenting.
In Rwanda, Philip is sharing both responsibility and power to be a better father:
“What we are learning through this program has helped us to pass through this lockdown. Normally in our culture, men don’t stay home with the wife and children; he only comes home late and sometimes drunk.
“Through this program we learned the benefits of spending time with family members, developing positive masculine attitudes, and being a good father. We are working together, having lunch together, planning together, and taking care of our children together.”
Supporting Parents to Bring Peace
The impact Usaina, Saratu, Frishta, and Josephine have on their children will go beyond their household. They lay the foundation for gender equality for their children but also a stronger community and world.
Women reinvest 90 percent of their income into their families, versus 40 percent from men. They keep their daughters in school, realizing the importance of their education. And for every 10 percent more girls who go to school, a country’s GDP can be expected to rise 3 percent.
Gender equality as part of positive parenting has a ripple effect.
When we support women’s power, they grow it and share it to prepare their children. They make the world better and safer — for everyone.
Join us today in celebrating and supporting parents paving a better future for their children.