Promoting Gender Equity
Promoting gender equity is at the heart of PMC’s work. How well a society treats its women is one of the strongest indicators of the success and health of a society. By providing girls with an education, allowing women to have a voice in family decisions, and providing women with opportunities for economic freedom, we will build stronger future generations.
Discrimination against women and girls occurs in many forms through gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health inequities and harmful traditional practices.
Violence Against Women
PMC believes empowering women is a key component in stabilizing population growth and improving the quality of life for all people. To improve the status of women around the world, we must combat issues such as gender-based-violence and harmful traditional practices. These practices differ in various societies around the world; however, whatever form these practices take, they are flagrant violations of basic human rights and cause enduring pain and suffering for millions of women worldwide.
Violence against women is prevalent in every country in the world. In developing countries, gender-based violence is often a culturally accepted occurrence. Surveys conducted in sub-Saharan Africa reveal that 46% of Ugandan women, 60% of Tanzanian women, 42% of Kenyan women and 40% of Zambian women report regular physical abuse. In Nigeria, 81% of married women report being verbally or physically abused by their husbands, and 46% of those women reported being abused in the presence of their children. Violence has a significant impact on the health and life expectancy of women. Read more about the effects of PMC’s program in the Philippines that addressed the issue of domestic abuse. Read more about PMC’s video game, BREAKAWAY, which tackles violence against women in a new way.
Maternal and Infant Deaths
In many developing countries, women are only allowed to work inside the home. Their job is to have children, raise a family and take care of the household. As a result, women are often married early and begin having children at young ages. This increases the risk of obstetric fistula and other maternal health issues. In many areas, obstetric facilities and trained personnel are not available. As a result, maternal and infant morbidity is extremely high. For African women, the lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy is 1 in 16, while among North American women, the risk is about 1 in 3,700. Read about how PMC’s programs in northern Nigeria are working to delay the age of marriage and childbearing.
Lack of Economic Opportunity
As women are generally the poorest of the poor and, at the same time, key actors in the development process, eliminating social, cultural, political, and economic discrimination against women is a prerequisite of eradicating poverty…ensuring quality family planning and reproductive health services, and achieving balance between population and available resources and sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
- 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, paragraph 3.16
The lack of economic opportunities for women creates economic dependence on the husband. This makes a woman extremely vulnerable if something happens to the husband or to their marriage. Because these women have no economic opportunities, in resource-poor settings, such women may be forced to use sex as a commodity in exchange for goods, services, money, food, accommodations and other basic necessities. This can result in HIV, pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Women also often bear the brunt of environmental degradation because the household duties for which they are responsible (fetching firewood and water, food preparation and agriculture) are tied to the land and the available resources. When these resources become scarce, women can be forced to travel for miles each day to provide for their families.
This Ethiopian woman hikes a mountain every day carrying this firewood on her back. For this day’s work she is paid less than $1.50 US.
Gender Equity and the Millennium Development Goals
Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, number three on the UN list of Millennium Development Goals, will have direct positive outcomes on the other seven goals as well.