By Kasey LaFlam
Something special happens when we support women and girls: families prosper, communities thrive and entire countries become stronger and more resilient.
In the Shivaji Nigar slum in Mumbai, India, ICRW has been empowering adolescent girls and young women through a sports empowerment program for girls. In their low-income community, where girls are routinely discriminated against, ICRW has given young women the skills to become mentors to adolescent girls, providing them with the opportunity to talk with girls about issues around gender norms, communication, reproductive health and self-esteem. As part of this program the adolescent girls compete in a sport called kabaddi, which is designed to increase their confidence and break down gender barriers. Recently, these amazing, brave young girls competed in a tournament – in public! – in the Shivaji Nagar slum community in Mumbai. These young women are challenging traditional gender norms, building their self-esteem and challenging the way their parents, and the community, see the value of girls. Because of this program, and the young women’s commitment, something truly special is happening in Shivaji Nagar.
But it’s not just Shivaji Nagar – young girls throughout India are being given the opportunity to transform traditional gender norms, thanks to ICRW’s programs. GEMS (Gender Equity Movement in Schools) is designed to shift attitudes among boys and girls, ages 12-14, around gender roles and violence. Originally piloted in Mumbai, this project is now in cities and villages throughout India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Additionally, older-adolescent girls, ages 15-17, are accessing opportunities to build skill sets and confidence around personal empowerment and plans for the future through the PAGE program (Planning Ahead for Girls Empowerment & Employability), currently being piloted in low-income communities in Delhi. It takes great courage and strength for these young women to challenge traditional gender norms held by their communities. This Galentine’s Day, recognize their courage by honoring a brave woman or girl in your life with a gift that gives back.
We’ve partnered with the BRAVE Collection to empower women and girls around the globe! The BRAVE Collection features handmade jewelry by women artisans in Cambodia, who typically come from low-income backgrounds or are living with disabilities. These women, mostly mothers, work in a free, fair and dignified work environment and are paid above average wages and receive benefits such as health insurance and stipends for their children’s education. In addition to the living wages paid to the artisans employed, BRAVE donates 10% of the proceeds to partner organizations in Cambodia committed to fighting human trafficking. From now until February 11th, BRAVE is also donating $8 from each purchase to ICRW, in support of our cutting-edge research, advocacy and programs. Use promo code “ICRW” when checking-out and feel good knowing your purchase not only will make the day of one amazing, brave woman in your life, but also helps a mother in Cambodia send her daughter to school, and makes a difference in the lives of adolescent girls throughout the world.