“In my opinion, the single most significant thing that can be done to cure extreme poverty is this: protect, educate, and nurture girls and women and provide them with equal rights and opportunities—educationally, economically, and socially.”
― Rich Stearns, President, World Vision U.S., in The Hole in Our Gospel
A VIOLATION OF JUSTICE
When a girl is born into poverty, she enters one of the largest groups in the world to experience the lack of basic needs and human rights: poor women. In some countries, a cultural preference for sons means that daughters are less likely to survive until birth and may be neglected, abandoned, or even killed if they do. Viewed as less valuable than boys, girls who do survive infancy are more likely to be kept home from school and may be the last to receive food or medical care when resources are scarce. As they become women, many girls have limited opportunities and are often treated as property, receiving the message that they cannot have equitable partnerships with—and have less worth than—men and boys.
Women and girls in developing countries are often subjected to poverty and oppression as a result of traditional practices and worldviews that are harmful to their gender. Many are not entitled to own property or inherit land. Social exclusion, honor-based violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, restricted mobility, and early marriage deny women and girls the right to health and increase the incidence of illness and death.
In 1979, the United Nations General Assembly addressed the marginalization of women by adopting a bill of rights for the world’s women known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Nevertheless, more than 30 years later, millions of women and girls still do not have equal opportunities to realize rights recognized by law.
THE TIME IS NOW
When women and girls are given opportunities to thrive and resources to care for their families, their children get the chance for a healthier childhood and a brighter future—a change that bears fruit through generations. In the coming years, population growth is expected to result primarily from mothers who lack access to proper nutrition and education and who have been deprived of basic rights. The ongoing food crisis and arising conflict over access to clean water will only compound the risks for vulnerable women and girls. And as certain cultures continue to prioritize sons over daughters, and take steps toward the preferential survival of those sons, gender imbalance is increasing, placing women and girls at an increased risk of exploitation and abuse. We must act now to secure a better future for the world’s girls and women.
By empowering girls and women to change their stories, we can help change the future—creating an environment in which they are respected, valued, and equipped to transform the world by helping to solve the challenges in their own communities.
The Strong Women, Strong World initiative seeks to restore dignity to the most vulnerable by…
Child Protection & Education: Restoring opportunity with education
Channels of Hope for Gender: Restoring equity in gender relationships
Maternal & Child Health: Restoring lives through maternal care
Economic Development: Restoring hope with economic development
Water, Sanitation & Hygiene: Restoring health with clean water