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Women Empowerment

Working Women = Fed Families

This popular quote has been attributed to many different people over the years. But no matter who said it first, it has been proven time and time again to be true. Empowering women financially and socially, and giving them an education, just makes sense.

According to the United Nations, when more women work, economies grow. Studies have shown that providing women with better education, training, means of production and access to financial resources is not only good for the economy but will also help to eradicate world hunger. In fact, research suggests that if women had the same access to resources as men, 150 million more people would be fed. Now, that would make a huge dent in world hunger figures!

Whenever women receive income of any kind, it’s not only them who benefit, but their families and communities too. When a poor woman’s income is increased, it has an immediate positive impact on her children’s diet and access to education. The stats prove this too: women spend about 90% of their income on food, health and education for their families. In comparison, men spend between 30-40% on their families.

Equal Gender Participation = Equal Societies

The financial and social participation of women creates more equal societies. When women step up, or are given the space to do so, they contribute just as much as their male counterparts do. When their voices are heard, there is a better chance of their rights being recognised and respected. Even small gains made in these areas in traditionally patriarchal societies have great results.

The economic empowerment of women is central to realising women’s rights and gender equality. Women earning their own income are in a better position to resist exploitation and oppression. How often have we heard that women remain in abusive relationships purely for financial reasons? In today’s world, where gender-based exploitation and abuse are rife, it’s critical for women to earn and become financially independent.

The Equality of Women in Islam

In Islam, women are given equality and status. Muslims are guided to honour, respect and protect females. Our religion has a long history of honoured women who contributed to and bettered their communities and supported the growth of Islam in its early days. They were businesswomen, teachers, humanitarians, mothers, nurses and even warriors on the battlefield.

There are numerous verses in the Quran that describe equality between the genders. And there are many hadiths that highlight the equal rights of women.

The men believers and the women believers are responsible for each other. They enjoin the good and forbid the evil, they observe prayers and give charitable alms and obey God and his Prophet.’ (Quran 9:71)

Our religion assigns men and women equal dignity. We know too, that the actions of men and women are worth the same in the presence of Allah:

‘And whoever does good deeds, whether male or female, and (he or she) is a believer, they shall enter the Garden.’ (Quran 4:124)

In his last sermon, our beloved Prophet (PBUH) reiterated the position of respect and honour that Islam affords to women:

Fear God regarding women. Verily you have married them with the trust of God, and made their bodies lawful with the word of God. You have (rights) over them, and they have (rights) over you… (Bukhari)

ARF’s Empowerment Projects for Women

At African Relief Fund (ARF), our Income Generation Programme prioritises women. In Somalia, we run livelihood and empowerment projects to give women a hand up. Many are single mothers, who have lost their husbands. Many have lost their homes as well and are trying to care for their families in IDP camps. Others have gathered the courage to return home, after having been displaced for many years due to famine, drought or conflict. They need all the help they can get to start over again.

Our Seamstress Training Project is designed to assist returnees who have to start from scratch to rebuild their lives. The project first provides skills training. Once our trainees have completed their education, we then provide them with a sewing machine, sewing equipment and start-up materials to help them start working.

Our seamstresses are able to provide a service that is needed in their communities from which they can earn an income. The skills and tools they receive help them grow in confidence and give them dignity through financial independence.

‘The best of you are those who are best to their women.’ (Tirmidhi)

For sustainable development in Somalia, empowering women with the skills and tools for income generation is more necessary now than ever. It only costs £150 to train and provide a woman with everything she’ll need to start earning an income. Find out more about ARF’s Seamstress Training Project, as well as our other livelihood projects here.