Women still losing out, here and abroad

Women still losing out, here and abroad


One day a year women’s issues take centre stage-8 March, International Women’s Day. It seems the rest of the year we are less visible. When the new member for Bennelong, Maxine McKew, made her maiden speech to Federal Parliament, she drew attention to the continuing inequities women faced in the workforce and the impact this had on their quality of life.

Women too often carry the burden of social inequities, according to Union Aid Abroad’s Catherine Coorey. ‘Of the world’s poorest people, it is estimated that 70% are women.

‘The reasons for this are many, but Union Aid Abroad is working to redress this appalling gender imbalance, with almost three-quarters of our projects aimed at improving opportunities for women and, by doing this, improving their families’ lives too.

‘We work with local women’s groups to best deliver programs that women really want,’ she said.

Here are a few of Union Aid Abroad’s projects that focus on women:

* EAST TIMOR–Literacy Education for rural women. Around two-thirds of adult women in East Timor have never attended school. Consequently, most rural women over 50 years of age are functionally illiterate. Union Aid Abroad has been assisting a women’s organisation, the Grupo Feto Foins’ae Timor Leste, (GFFTL) to conduct literacy and income generation training for these women.

* VIETNAM–Countering the Trafficking of Women. The combination of rural poverty and the increased demand for women in China have made Vietnam a ‘catchment’ area for trafficking. This is especially the case for women and children in Hai Duong, close to the Chinese border. Women in Hai Duong are recruited by promises of a better life, a lucrative job, or marriage to a wealthy man. Working with the Hai Duong Women’s Union, this project aims to alert the community to the realities of trafficking, and assists women who have returned from being trafficked to rebuild their lives.

* LAOS–Skills training for women. Laos is one of the poorest countries in Asia. With the Lao Women’s Union, Union Aid Abroad support economically disadvantaged women in acquiring skills such as tailoring, food processing, fish and frog raising and hairdressing that can assist them to generate income to support their families.

* ZIMBABWE–‘Moving Kitchens’ project with AWC. We support the Association of Women’s Clubs in getting desperately needed food to women and children and those displaced by political violence or excluded from receiving food aid by the ruling party. AWC can reach vulnerable communities where local women arrange collective cooking and distribution. The kitchens move each day to avoid government interference.

* INDONESIA, ACEH–Skills training. Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA is working with local partners in Aceh to provide vocational skills and small business management training to men and women affected by the 2004 tsunami and the decades-long military conflict. Vocational training courses include tailoring, embroidery, sewing machine maintenance and repair, fish processing, wedding set making, organic agriculture, literacy and handicraft.

* LEBANON–Early Childhood training for Palestinian refugee children. Union Aid Abroad support the Women’s Humanitarian Organisation’s early education centre in Burj el Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut. The Centre enables mothers to go to work and provides children with the best start for their education–Palestinian refugee children must be literate in Arabic, English and basic maths by age 6 in order to attend UN schools.

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said the NSWNA strongly supports Union Aid Abroad’s projects, including a $2,000/ month contribution to the project in Aceh.

‘NSWNA members can remember women all year round by supporting these or our other projects. Or you can join up to become a regular monthly donor–a Global Justice Partner,’ said Catherine.

To support Union Aid Abroad’s projects or become a Global Justice Partner, go to www.unionaidabroad.org.au

COPYRIGHT 2008 New South Wales Nurses Association

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning