Gender justice and inclusion

Women represent the majority of the world’s poor. Globally, they are less likely than men to be involved in decision making, to own land or property, or to have access to education, technology and employment. This is compounded by additional intersecting aspects of identity, such as disability, older age or race.

The 'shadow pandemic' of violence against women

Women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate-related disasters and conflict, which reverse progress and solidify structural inequality. Violence against women is one of the most widespread abuses of human rights globally, affecting an estimated 1 in 3 women worldwide. Covid-19 has further exacerbated this violence, reinforcing harmful social norms and increasing risk factors such as early child marriage. The UN secretary general has termed it the 'shadow pandemic'.

Mapendo with her child.

Mapendo found support at a listening centre funded by CAFOD after she was forced from her home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and attacked.

What is CAFOD doing to change gender injustice?

Confronted with this reality, CAFOD is committed to identifying and challenging the systems, structures and social norms that discriminate against women, girls and excluded groups to bring about empowerment and transformative change, including gender justice.

Our vision is a world where diverse women and girls are safe and respected, and where women and men share equally in shaping their societies. We recognise that sustainable and effective development is only possible when exclusion is addressed, justice is realised and everyone is empowered to reach their full potential. Both women and men need to be part of the solution.

Alongside our partner organisations on the ground, and in collaboration with Caritas and other sector networks and allies, we work towards women’s empowerment and gender justice in many ways, including:

  • Taking action on violence against women: We work with like-minded organisations to speak out on violence against women and respond to the needs of women and girls experiencing gender-based violence. Our partners are providing medical help, offering safe spaces and counselling for survivors of violence. They are also ensuring joined-up services and response through local structures such as gender and peace networks or other aid agencies. We work with men on positive masculinity to challenge negative gender norms that perpetuate discrimination.
  • Challenging economic, political and social barriers which stop women and girls from reaching their full potential: Our partners are supporting women to access local markets, providing training and resources for business start-ups and sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Transforming unequal power relations between men and women: We do this by promoting women's voices, decision-making power and access to leadership roles in their communities though civic engagement and local governance for example. We look to support women-led local organisations where possible, recognising their unique contributions to this agenda.

Believe in Change toolkit

CAFOD’s Believe in Change toolkit is an inspirational guide for Catholic organisations and leaders to feel better equipped and confident to promote gender equality in their work using language, methods, values and theological reflections they can identify with.

The tool uses partner case studies from across the world describing challenges and achievements of their gender work with a focus on rural women. The toolkit works on four levels – individual, family, community, society – and allows partners to reflect on gender roles and change harmful practices through the 'pastoral cycle' of seeing, judging, acting and celebrating. These steps do not require outside experts, but rather build on individuals’ and groups’ own reflections of their convictions and practices in light of teachings found in the Bible.

Download CAFOD's Believe in Change toolkit

How we support the Global 16 Days Campaign

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an annual global campaign to raise awareness and galvanise 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 such violence is a violation of human rights. World Aids Day (1 December) also falls within the period of activism.

CAFOD supports the Global 16 Days Campaign by speaking out with like-minded organisations to raise awareness about gender-based violence, to share strategies and to demonstrate our solidarity with survivors.

Latest news on gender justice and inclusion

Supporting families battling extreme hunger in Afghanistan

20 May 2022

Our hardworking local experts are continuing to support people in Afghanistan with urgent provisions of food, water and shelter as well as helping families headed by women get a reliable income.

Woman speaking into a microphone at a recording desk

World Radio Day: The Peruvian podcasters saving lives

9 February 2022

In Peru, indigenous women have taken the lead in broadcasting life-saving information to their communities in local languages.

Distributing a food package

Supporting people living with HIV in Honduras

3 December 2021

Our Church partner in Honduras is working with people living with HIV and AIDS to provide medical support and help end the stigma they experience.

Resources on gender

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