In Guatemala, women are being empowered to transform small loans and savings into promising futures. Photo: PWS&D

March 8 is International Women’s Day—a day to celebrate the achievements of women in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It’s also a day to inspire us to continually work for a future filled with hope and opportunity for women and girls.

Around the world many women and girls live in poverty. They live in places where they do not have access to education or fair credit. They live in places where they do not have control over the decisions made about their health and well-being. They face food insecurity, inequality, violence and discrimination.

Too often these limitations prevent women from making a positive difference in their own lives and in their communities.

Be Bold For Change

Be Bold For Change is the 2017 theme for International Women’s Day.

To provide opportunities for women and girls beyond the classroom in Afghanistan, PWS&D’s Girls Education Project runs capacity building classes in embroidery and painting. Photo: CWSA

It encourages us to call on the masses and on ourselves to help forge a better world—a more gender inclusive world.

Here in Canada, there are actions we can take on to accelerate gender parity and help women around the world advance and move closer to a more sustainable, prosperous world.

Through Presbyterian World Service & Development, our church is actively supporting programs that benefit women. With this help, women are realizing their potential, achieving economic independence and advocating for their rights.

Below are a few examples of how PWS&D is inspiring change:

  • In Afghanistan, girls are realizing their dreams. In a region where girls have been ignored for far too long, PWS&D is working with local partners to train teachers and raise awareness and support for girls’ education. Since 2009, enrolment has increased by over 5,400 girls.
  • In Malawi and Afghanistan, child and maternal health programs and health services for women have been strengthened and women are making informed decisions that will improve their health, well-being and quality of life.
  • In Haiti, women who have experienced sexual violence are seeking legal support and medical and psychosocial services that are too often denied due to poverty and gender-power imbalances. PWS&D partners are supporting women on the road to recovery and justice, while strengthening surveillance systems, community awareness and education to put a stop to violence.
  • In Malawi and Guatemala vulnerable and marginalized women are being empowered to transform small loans and savings into promising futures. Women are supported as they form self-help groups and receive literacy, business and vocational training to build sustainable livelihoods.
  • In Ghana, women accused of witchcraft are being reunited with their families after years of exclusion. PWS&D is working with communities to build awareness of human rights, mental illness and other health issues that are mistakenly attributed to witchcraft, in order to protect women against allegations and pave the way for others to return home.

Be Bold For Change this International Women’s Day through actions that empower women to achieve their full potential, improve their lives and lift up those around them.

To support projects that are providing real sources of hope and opportunity for women around the world, click on the links above.