International Women’s Day: CAFOD’s work with women explained

8 March 2017

Margaret Lotee in Karamoja

Margaret Lotee in Karamoja. Margaret was trained as a water pump mechanic thanks to your support. (Credit: Ben White)

CAFOD has a vision of a world where women are safe and respected and where women and men share equally in shaping their societies. Gender equality and working with women and girls is therefore very important to how we work with partners and communities overseas. To mark International Women’s Day (8 March) we answer your questions about our work with women and girls.

Donate to support CAFOD's work with women through our Lent Appeal

Why does CAFOD focus on women?

We believe that everyone in the world has the right to live their lives with dignity.

Globally, women are less likely to be involved in decision-making, to own land or property or to have access to education and employment than men. Violence against women is one of the most widespread abuses of human rights. Confronted with this reality and with a mission to serve the poorest and most disadvantaged, CAFOD has prioritised its work with women and girls.

What is gender equality?

Gender equality means women, girls, boys and men being able to enjoy the same rights, opportunities, resources and rewards. Equality does not mean that women and men are the same, but that their enjoyment of rights, opportunities and life chances are not decided or limited by whether they were born male or female. Equality is essential to tackle poverty, and both women and men need to be part of the solution.

Gender relations looks at the relationships between women and men. It means paying attention to how women and men work, and are able to get the food, water, shelter and jobs that they need.

This Lent read more about Florence from Zambia who is supporting her family by farming fish 

Why is gender equality important to CAFOD?

Catholic Social Teaching talks about equality between women and men. It says that every person has dignity and value. Gender equality is vital for sustainable development and human rights. Where there is gender inequality, it is often women who are excluded from decision-making or not able to get the economic and social resources they need. So empowering women is important, especially finding and changing power imbalances and giving women more freedom to manage their own lives.

What is meant by ‘women’s empowerment’ and why is it needed?

Women’s empowerment means increasing and improving women’s social, economic, political and legal entitlements to make sure that women have equal rights to gain skills, self-confidence and self-reliance. No one can empower someone else: only the individual can empower herself or himself to make choices or speak out. Therefore, CAFOD supports projects which can help women towards self-empowerment. Women and girls bring enhanced benefits for families and society as a whole.

Help us continue to support women and girls: donate to our Lent Appeal today

What are CAFOD’s gender equality campaigns?

International Woman’s Day (IWD) is an international day of celebration on 8 March every year. It celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world.

For CAFOD, International Women’s Day is a chance to highlight and celebrate our partners’commitment to achieving gender equality. We also celebrate all the women we work with who are fighting the social, economic and political barriers which stop them from reaching their full potential.

16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is an annual world-wide campaign to raise awareness and inpsire action to end sexual and gender-based violence. The campaign starts on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on 10 December, International Human Rights Day. The dates symbolically link violence against women and human rights and emphasise that violence against women is a violation of human rights.

During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence CAFOD speaks out with like-minded organisations and networks, such as the Side by Side Gender Justice Movement and the We Will Speak Out Coalition. We aim to raise awareness about gender-based violence and to demonstrate our solidarity with survivors.

Join our e-newsletter to keep up to date with our campaigns

Does poverty affect women differently?

Poverty itself is not ‘gender-blind’. The situation of women and men in the poorest countries is often different, so that by most measures, development outcomes are consistently worse for women than for men. For example: women and children account for around 80 per cent of all refugees worldwide. During the Kenyan drought women spend up to 8 hours a day fetching water. Disasters and conflicts increase women’s exposure to domestic and sexual violence.

Donate to the CAFOD Lent Appeal today

Back to top