Earlier this month, three scholars, Sarina Balami, Sirjana Tamang and Liza Pudasaini from Rukmini Foundation participated in an online event organized by Global Girls Leading Our World (G.L.O.W.) Girls from seven organizations and six countries attended the meeting. The participating organizations include the Aschiana Foundation, Afghanistan, Bronx Academy of Letters, U.S.A., Cara House, Kenya, Detroit Public School, U.S.A., Nigeria Reads, Nigeria, Rukmini Foundation, Nepal, and Toya Foundation, Haiti. Usha Adhikari and Prakriti Nepal, also from the Rukmini Foundation, facilitated the meeting.
The purpose of the conference was twofold. The first part of the program focused on reflecting on the status of women and the barriers they face in our society. During the second part, the participants discussed the ways to overcome obstacles and shared solutions they are using in their communities.
Status of Women
Participants watched short videos of women’s conditions in different countries. After watching the videos, they realized that whether in developing countries like Nepal or an affluent country like the U.S.A., women face economic and social challenges. The participants also watched the videos of women, in the face of these hardships, solving problems. The participants were encouraged by watching the videos of women working as a tailor, shopkeeper, housekeeper, farmers, etc. and few in better professions like Doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs.
Reflection on Local Solutions and Global Reach
During this session, participants shared their experiences and concerns.
Girls from the Rukmini Foundation said that in their community, opportunities for women exist in agriculture, journalism, and teaching. In Haiti, women engage in activities called Women Trade, which is housekeeping, gardening, nurses, cashiers, receptionists, etc.
A participant from the Bronx Academy of Letters said that she is involved in entrepreneurship and shard that education is the essential factor in gaining skills and knowledge for running a business. Financial support and quality education and training are vital for running a business.
There were several examples of how girls were solving problems. Girls from Uganda said that many girls in their community face many restrictions during menstruation periods. They were facing difficulty in using sanitary pads due to cultural and economic barriers. They came up with an idea of making sanitary pads using available resources. They reached their mothers group to make pads and encourage women to use it in their community and sell to the schools. It was difficult at first but slowly people started accepting the idea. Now girls have access to sanitary pads to safeguard during menstruation and mothers are making some money. This work started last year and it is sustained by the community already.
Another example was provided by the participant from the Aschiana Foundation, who worked in a Breadbasket as a cook. She was also continuing her education. English was her second language, which was a barrier to higher education. She worked hard and overcame the obstacle in completing her master’s degree. The example was very uplifting to all the participants.
In the end, participants learned that women face difficulty and discrimination in all societies. Education is the only way to get out of the situation. They also learned that girls need to be involved in different activities. Hard work, determination, vision, family support, and mentorship is also crucial to overcome barriers and solve economic problems.