Gender Equality

Girls are born with the same God-given rights as boys, and that needs to matter – everywhere. Societies with greater gender equality enjoy more sustainable development, faster economic growth and better prospects for their children. Yet in many places, discrimination and violence against girls and women is still rampant.
World Vision helped author and launch the groundbreaking Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality.
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Gender equality and sustainable development are closely linked. We empower women with skills, and small business know-how.
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We partner with entire communities – women, girls, men and boy – to transform discriminatory practices together.
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We work with faith leaders around the world, to acknowledge and act upon gender injustices in their communities.
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Our Approach
At World Vision, we believe that every child is born with the same set of God-given rights.  Each child is full of potential, and has much to contribute to their families and societies.  Every girl and boy deserves to be nurtured, included, supported and empowered to live life in all its fullness.  
 
As a global community, we have almost unanimously agreed that girls have the exact same rights as boys and women, as men. Nearly every country on the planet has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The latter is the most broadly translated document in the world, and can be found in dialects from Abkhaz to Zulu!
 
Yet today, gender-inequality is still being reckoned with everywhere, even in certain spheres of Canadian life. Gender violence still spans cultures and social groups, religion and education levels. It is deeply rooted in gender inequalities, in cultural norms that assert men’s superiority and power over women, and in rigid norms about men’s and women’s roles.
At World Vision, we have learned that promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is core to effective and sustainable development. Lack of gender equality can be damaging, not only to girls and women, but to their entire societies. 

Gender inequality and gender-based violence costs everyone. One in every three women will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Little boys may come of age, seeing this happening to their mothers and sisters. The cycle can easily perpetuate. In its extreme form, gender-based violence manifests through crimes such as rape and honor killing, and brutal cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriage. In cases where girl and women are harmed or killed, an entire family can be drastically impacted by the event.

But gender-based violence also manifests in subtler and even more pervasive ways, such as the restriction of actions and opinions, and control over choices and resources. When a girl is kept away from school, there may be little to challenge these approaches, and almost nowhere to turn for help in a crisis.
We strive to create programs that address gender inequality and prevent gender-based violence. We implement them by working with men, women, boys and girls. For programs to succeed, all must become partners in transforming discriminatory beliefs and practices.

In many places where we serve, communities place infinite trust in the words of the local faith leaders. That’s why we partner with pastors, imams and other faith leaders, as catalysts for changing harmful attitudes and behaviors in their communities.

This approach has been critical for reversing wide-spread misunderstandings about HIV and AIDS, for instance. And it’s helped overturn discriminatory beliefs and practices so harmful to girls and women.

By engaging church leaders in respectful dialogue regarding their culture and the Bible, Koran, or other holy book, we are purposeful about affirming those aspects of culture that can positively impact communities. But we challenge those that entrench power imbalances between men and women, or harm, restrict and belittle any child. By educating faith leaders on gender issues, and emphasizing the unique giftedness and important role of women in the families and communities, we help empower women and girls. We free them to influence their own futures. More girls have a chance to attend school and go further with their education.
It takes planning, listening, clear communication and plenty of room for discussion. A solid curriculum is key. And it’s important that all parties – men, women, boys and girls – have a place in the conversation.

In India, World Vision works with fathers, to address the issues of child abuse and gender-based balance in families. Our community facilitators meet with men in Men Care groups, in sessions for married couples and in family groupings.

Teaching is rooted in the curriculum World Vision helped to develop: A More Equal Future. It provides tools and guidance to engage with fathers, daughters and entire families. The goal is to critically examine the norms that support gender discrimination and child marriage. Once these are unpacked, we can help families change them.

In Sri Lanka, both domestic violence and alcohol consumption decreased when we worked with fathers to prevent violence against women and children, and encouraged their involvement as partners and caregivers.
Girls have a right to wait until they become women before marrying. Women have a right to medical care at every point in their lives – including pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth. Every girl and woman has the right to life, liberty, and security of person. These are all outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Children enjoy special rights which emphasize the importance of letting children be children. Along with boys, every girl in the world is entitled to “the right to special protection for (her) physical, mental and social development,” as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet in some parts of the world, girls can be forced into marriage, pregnancy and childbirth long before their bodies are ready. We learn of this kind of exploitation firsthand in the communities where we serve.

A girl who is raped on a regular basis – even within a marriage – is not free, and her person is not secure. She is not experiencing special protection for her physical, mental and social development. The act is a violent one. When it comes to childbirth, two children are faced with unnecessary danger: both the baby and the child mother.

Wherever we work, we champion girls, protecting them from the emotional, psychological and physical turmoil of forced marriage and early pregnancy. We work to teach their families and communities what girls are worth, and why their rights must be honoured. And we empower girls with education, opportunities and connections within their communities.

As girls become women, our Maternal, Newborn and Child Health work plays a critical role in our protection of their rights. We’ve worked with Canada’s governments, urging them to use their influence to improve the health of mothers and babies. The results have saved the lives of countless children as Canada has used its influence to get other countries to step up.

Our Born on Time initiative focuses on the importance of:
  • educating all community members – men and boys, too – on the importance of supporting women during pregnancy, childbirth and in motherhood
  • trained healthcare workers for women before, during and after pregnancy, and during delivery
  • access to contraception
  • spacing pregnancies at least two years apart
 
Birth spacing helps protects the health of the mother, allowing her body time to recover before she’s pregnant again.  It helps protect her from the devastation of losing a pregnancy or child, because she’s been forced into pregnancy too soon.
Resources
Faith and religion are integral aspects of culture, with implications for those advocating for gender equality, yet in development practice they are frequently not examined overtly.
Greater gender equality is smart economics. It enhances productivity and improves other development outcomes – including prospects for the next generation.

Ways to give to Gender Equality

Sponsor a Child: $39/Month

Child sponsorship empowers children, their families and communities to help break the cycle of poverty.

When you sponsor a child, you provide access to basic necessities such as food, clean water, education and health care.

 Find a Child to Sponsor

Women and Girls in Crisis Fund: $100

Help women and girls in crisis.

Education, job training, counselling and healthcare are powerful tools for women and girls denied a chance to go to school, abused in the home, and forced into early marriage or sexual exploitation.

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Where We Work


Together with your support, we are bringing about real change for children, families and communities in more than 50 countries.
From Canada to the world. With love.


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