The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. The world of work, both formal and informal, is rapidly changing for women. Globalization, development and global cultural shifts for mean more women are working, earning wages for that work, and engaging in unpaid informal work in the home. Programs like ours at Women for Women International encourage women to gain skills and enter the workforce help to achieve the goal of an equitable workforce by 2030. Below is a story of Mauriri, a program participant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who recently graduated from our program and is using her new-found skills and knowledge of her rights to earn an income.
In March of 2016, Mauriri heard about a program that aims to help women empower themselves for their social and economic autonomy. That organization was Women for Women International. Against the advice of her husband and her entire family, Mauriri walked to the enrollment center and started down a path that has changed her life.
Mauriri comes from a very poor family that did not believe in educating female children. She was to take care of the household chores while her brothers attended school as the future of the family. Alone, without support, and unaware of her rights, Mauriri did household and small agriculture work for her family. At the age of 14, she became pregnant with her first child and went to live with her husband’s family. Now, Mauriri is 20 years old and has 2 little girls and 2 little boys.
Before she started the program, Mauriri says she felt worthless. Her domestic and field work was not respected by her husband’s family and she had difficulty feeding her children and sending them to school.
Through our program Mauriri learned about her rights. “Learning about the value of women’s work and rights has marked a turning point in my life,” she says. As an active member of her village savings and loan program, she invests her stipend into her small charcoal business. She has even started a small breeding business with three pigs, one cow, and one sheep.
Now Mauriri is a respected member of her family. She helps to earn an income and sends two of her children to school as the other two are not old enough yet. The relationship with her husband has also improved. He wants to know about the skills and rights Mauriri has learned in class.
Mauriri graduates from the program in a few months but she hopes to be a better mother with the knowledge she has gained from her experience working with Women for Women International. She wants to educate other women in her village and is hopeful for a brighter future. “I think that most of women have no support for the simple reason that they do not know their rights, so I committed myself to talking about my experience with Women for Women in my village and with my family.”
This year as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we are inspired by the bravery and commitment of women like Mauriri who seek to better their life and the lives of everyone around them.
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