Even most of the earliest of documented societies had specific roles that men and women filled. Men were the hunters: they had jobs, provided for their families and were the breadwinners. Women were the homemakers: they had children, provided care and were their husband’s domestic counterparts. Unfortunately for many developing societies, these roles have not been completely shattered. Many jobs are still filled by men, and women are considered inferior in the business place. Women are expected to stay home and cook and clean instead of being business owners and CEOs. Fortunately, many programs, both by the government and non-profits, are working to empower women and end this gender gap.
USAid has multiple programs aimed towards female empowerment and equality. One of these movements is called Half the Sky.
Based off a book and turned into a television mini-series, the program uses an integrated media campaign to educate women. One of their projects was to create three mobile phone games for people in India and East Africa. The games include topics such as :
- Family planning and reproductive health;
- Maternal and child health;
- Girls’ education; and
- Domestic violence and other gender-related themes (via Half the Sky).
This public service announcement is also part of the campaign:
Another one of their programs the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy. The major aim is to train more women to be successful leaders and get them involved in decision-making processes. Women receive training in peace negotiating, political processes and academia. USAID also tries to “support additional programs that promote women’s empowerment by:
- Improving women’s access to capital, markets and mobile technology
- Building women’s capacities and skills in agriculture
- Supporting women’s desires to own businesses”.
The biggest issue I see campaigns like this facing are outreach. Projects such as mobile apps have great potential to influence an entire generation. However, many of the women who need help are in the lowest poverty levels and may not have access to mobile technology. Many of these women are also uneducated and could have a hard time grasping such difficult concepts as peace negotiations.
However, I think projects like this are helping women take a huge step in the right direction. Women are getting access to information and programs that did not exist a few decades ago. Knowledge is power, and by providing women with tools to succeed, we are helping them become self-sustaining and contributors to society as a whole.