Today, March 8th, is International Women's Day - a special chance to celebrate the vital contributions women make to all societies, and to take a stand against the injustices that hold women back.
In Zambia, as in all societies, women have had an important historic role and continue to have an essential impact on all walks of life. However, women and girls in Zambia are harmed by significant inequalities in rights and opportunities. This is often particularly true for girls, in a society where 46% of the population is under 15 years old.
Graça Machel memorably said that "if you want to break the cycle of poverty, educate a girl." Our mission is to alleviate poverty in Zambia, and we know from our two decades' experience that a girl who is helped to enjoy her right to education can build a brighter future for herself, her family, and her community.
For this reason, gender has always been a key consideration in the way we plan and implement our work. Together with our partners, we have run special entrepreneurship sessions for girls; used Peer Education to caution against early marriage; and supported 900 girls in Chingola to stay in school through our DREAMS programme.
There is so much to do in Zambia to achieve the goal of gender parity - the theme of this year's celebration. Girls still have lower literacy rates than boys, many girls are made to marry early, and 47% of women have experience violence in their lifetime. This International Women's Day, we re-affirm our commitment to do everything we can to help Zambia's women and girls secure a safer, more independent, and more prosperous future. We're very grateful to all of our supporters, and hope you will continue with his on this journey.