Justice and empowerment are two of the core values of Human Appeal. As an organisation dedicated to relieving suffering, we are here for every human, including those made vulnerable due to inequalities and injustice. Globally, 35 percent of women have been subject to physical or sexual violence.
The risk of experiencing violence increases in times of distress, such as conflict, displacement and as we have witnessed more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls. Women also make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people, which keeps them trapped in a cycle of poverty and dependency.
As we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate the strides the world has made towards gender equality whilst recognising that the effort to achieve gender justice will be ongoing.
At Human Appeal we are reminded every day of the devastating impact of gender inequalities on women and girls in societies worldwide and tailor our programmes to ensure we are doing the best we can to tackle them in the most contextually appropriate ways. From promoting equal access to education for girls in rural Pakistan to protecting women from gender-based violence (GBV) in the camps of Iraq, Human Appeal is committed to working to establish justice.
In 2019, Human Appeal established the Sakina Centre in West Mosul city to provide protection and empowerment for women, including support for women who have taken legal action against their assaulters.
One of the women to receive support at the centre was 40-year-old Zarah.
When Zarah first got married, her life was full of happiness but things began to change and her husband began to neglect and abuse her. Zarah’s husband would refuse to give her food and she would rely on the kindness of her neighbours to give her bread to eat. He and his family began to physically beat and verbally abuse her. They threatened to report her to the authorities claiming she was a witch. Zarah had no choice but to retreat within herself. “I was so depressed that I became numb,” says Zarah.
Zarah came to the Sakina Centre, where Human Appeal was able to provide her with support. We were able to talk to Zarah about her rights, and helped her enrol onto a tailoring course. As a result, she became an excellent dressmaker empowered to work and live independently. Zarah was able to take the bold step to end her marriage after receiving counselling and guidance.
A third of all primary school-aged girls in Pakistan do not go to school. There is a plethora of reasons for this, influenced by local context and culture. Reasons vary from concerns around travelling safely to school and the availability of water and sanitation facilities. In some communities, poverty forces children to support their families through domestic or paid work, or walk miles each day to fetch clean water. At Human Appeal, we are dedicated to addressing these issues, and run a series of projects to tackle these problems.
In Rahim Yar Khan, in the Punjab province, Human Appeal is establishing a community centre which we are now expanding to include four classrooms and washrooms. This will help create a better learning environment without overcrowding for 3,250 girls and aims to combat the high dropout rate among girls. Many parents are reluctant to send their daughters to schools that only have male teachers, so our project also recruits female teachers from the surrounding area.
In Pakistan, 55 percent of public schools are considered to be unsatisfactory or unsafe, and this greatly impacts the number of girls who are enrolled in education. One key issue is the absence of washrooms in schools. Safe and secure washrooms help reassure parents that their children are safe and protected, and also promotes hygiene and sanitation among girls, particularly when menstruating. Our project to install washrooms for girls in schools goes some way in making schools more accessible for girls and boosting their attendance.
We also help orphaned girls, who are often left increasingly vulnerable and at risk following the death of one or both parents. Human Appeal supports the Ghonsla Orphanage in Alipur, Islamabad, where 50 orphaned girls are currently living. At the Ghonsla Orphanage, girls are cared for and given access to the facilities they need to help them thrive. They receive nutritious meals, clothing, access to healthcare and receive a brilliant education.
Human Appeal has renovated the orphanage, having constructed four new rooms and four washrooms. We have also provided teachers with training on child protection to ensure all children in the orphanage are kept safe.
As the deadly Syrian conflict approaches its tenth year, millions still struggle to access quality medical care, especially women, children, and those who have repeatedly fled their homes in search of safety. Ten years of war has left the country’s healthcare system on the verge of collapse, and the situation has worsened due to COVID-19.
The humanitarian situation is dire for the 4.1 million people situated in North-West Syria, of which 76 percent are women and children.
Human Appeal’s Al Imaan hospital in the Idlib governorate provides lifesaving maternal and child care. Between July 2020 and January 2021 alone, the hospital supported 45,132 people and safely delivered 2,908 babies. Al Imaan is the only maternity and children’s hospital in the area, and serves as a lifeline to over 70,000 people in the town and many more in neighbouring areas.
There are over 2.6 million people in Somalia who have been displaced due to war and conflict. 68 percent of displaced persons are living in temporary camps in Banadir and Lower Shabelle.
Human Appeal has been working to support displaced families including women in camps who are at increased risk of GBV and have endured exploitation. Through our project, we focussed on supporting 2,100 of the most vulnerable people including children, women, and survivors of violence.
Human Appeal provided legal, psychosocial, and social support to those displaced, including help to recover documents that were lost when they fled their homes allowing people to rebuild their lives. We also established a child friendly space where children have been given the opportunity to play, learn and receive psycho-social support to heal from their trauma.
In Pakistan, women are often excluded from the economic sphere, lacking the agency to make decisions about finances and relying on male relatives for their provision. Sadly, when these women are widowed they can find themselves having to become the breadwinner with little understanding of how to earn a living.
We run projects that empower women and give them independence with the ability to create sustainable livelihoods.
One of our projects includes partnering with government institutions to deliver a six-month vocational training programme for 200 women, where they are provided with sewing machines and supported in entering the labour market as capable, skilled tailors and businesswomen.
There is a famous African proverb that says “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” This statement reminds us of the potential women have in creating the world of tomorrow for everyone. Unless we create spaces and facilitate the advancement of women, entire nations will be left behind.
At Human Appeal, we believe in breaking down the barriers that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential and breaking glass ceilings. We strive to ensure that women and girls everywhere have access to good quality healthcare, excellent education and the opportunity to develop their skills. We aim to support more women in entering further education and the job markets globally.
We #ChoosetoChallenge gender equality today and every day, in every community we work with.
We ask our generous supporters to donate to life-changing projects empowering women and girls around the world. Together we can help women thrive, not just survive!