It is so easy to take for granted things we have always had access to or are entitled to by law, for example a free education, easily accessible healthcare and equal representation in the workforce.
Such important opportunities available to women in Australia and other developed countries is the direct result of social and governmental investment in women and the ability to recognise the vital role women play not just as caregivers, but as business women and community leaders.
In the beginning…
In an effort to further promote the concept of equality and empowerment of women worldwide, the United Nations General Assembly in 1977 invited member states to proclaim March 8 as a day to celebrate women’s rights and world peace. Although not a new concept (the Socialist Party of America celebrated their first national women’s day on 28 February 1909), celebrating the contribution women make to family, community and the economy has been steadily increasing. Unfortunately though, not fast enough to compete with the myriad changes and challenges faced by women in developing countries.
Improving women’s rights and opportunities…
As a result of rapid population growth, armed conflict and disease, countless efforts to improve women’s rights and opportunities in developing countries have often been unsuccessful. Currently approximately only half the female population of developing countries will complete schooling, resulting in approximately 75 million girls remaining uneducated. Of those that do have access to education, many will be forced to leave school and enter into marriage or the workforce. In fact, 90% of the child workforce in developing countries is made up of girls aged between 12 and 17.
Inspired Adventures and Plan Australia: Cycle for Girls 2013
This year, Inspired Adventures, Plan Australia and a group of dedicated fundraisers celebrated International Women’s day in Siem Reap, Cambodia as part of their 2013 Cycle for Girls, a trip to also be recreated next year.
Overcoming barriers to women’s equality: education and health
Plan Australia believe educated women have the potential to not only move themselves out of poverty, but greatly contribute to the economic and social stabilisation of their communities and countries. Through education, Plan aims to reduce gender inequality in developing countries and narrow the economic disparities between men and women. Educated women in developing countries have the opportunity to own and manage property and invest in technology to increase productivity as well as launch income-generating and entrepreneurial ventures. The funds raised for the 2013 Cycle for Girls supported Plan Australia’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign.
Addressing another key barrier to women’s equality in developing countries is the Barbara May Foundation, who in conjunction with Inspired Adventures, will take on Mt Kilimanjaro in 2014 to ensure women in developing countries have safe maternal health care during pregnancy and labour. Of the half a million women who die each year during or soon after childbirth, almost 99%, are in developing countries. This equates to a childbirth-related death approximately every 60 seconds and for every woman who dies, about 30 develop a labour-related injury, including obstetric fistula, a condition which causes constant incontinence resulting in health complications and social ostracism.
When presented in facts and figures, the issue of women’s equality seem insurmountable. However, with the dedication of our charity partners, fundraisers and newcomers, anything and everything is achievable.
We leave you with a video put together by Plan Cambodia. They received our 2013 Cycle for Girls team and invited them to hear firsthand how access to education is important for girls.
To all of you inspirational women out there, we want to be a part of your fitness and fundraising revolution! Go online to www.inspiredadventures.com.au to see how you can make your mark.