“There is no time to rest until our world achieves wholeness and balance, where all men and women are considered equal and free.” Laymah Obowee
We at WONDER are excited about the opportunities the new year (and decade) brings. This year, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the September 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. As the most comprehensive global policy framework focused on gender equality and female empowerment ever created, the declaration was a revolutionary moment. Since then significant progress has been made to secure equality for women and girls in all spheres of life. However, this progress has not been uniform, and more work is needed. The new year is an exciting time to continue to be inspired and guided by the founding principles of the declaration.
The new year is also the 5th anniversary of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG). This year we have the opportunity to unlock the full potential of these goals by continuing our work of increasing high-quality female education opportunities and achieving gender equality. As an interconnected series of goals, by focusing on SDG 4 (inclusive, quality educational opportunities for all) and SDG 5 (achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls everywhere), we have the opportunity to influence the progress of the other SDGs too.
At WONDER we use a multi-faceted approach to female education and empowerment. Through community-led partnership programs, we enable our participants to take ownership of their own development opportunities. Catering to place-specific needs and economies, we ensure that our programs provide women and girls with the best possible opportunities to become economically, socially and politically empowered. At WONDER this empowerment is tied to vocational training. Vocational training is recognised as an effective means through which sustainable change and economic empowerment occurs. In the new year, we are working to not only expand our vocational training and education partnership programs but strengthening our existing long-term partnerships. Through workshops and training, we are continuing to ensure that our projects remain efficient and sustainable.
Empowering women and girls transforms their families and communities too. WONDER’s vision of change centres on providing the stimulus through which women and girls can take control of their lives, ending poverty for themselves, their families and their wider communities. Women reinvest 90% of what they earn back into their families, for instance, paying school fees for their children. Investing in female education and empowerment aids in reducing poverty and building resilience and self-efficacy through enhanced female agency.
Strengthening our partner programs ability to provide effective mentoring to their students will also be central to WONDER’s work in 2020. Mentoring, alongside education and vocational training, is a major component of the WONDER vision. Mentors aid their mentees in addressing a range of issues in their lives, helping them to create positive aspirations and have agency through self-efficacy. Having a mentor as their ‘champion’ gives our students the opportunity to receive one-to-one attention that is culturally relevant, ensuring they make the most of the education they receive with our partner programs. For many students having a person in their lives who believes in and supports them as their person to turn to makes all the difference when working to transform their lives.
2020 is an exciting time to be a woman as gender inequality continues to remain at the forefront of development discussion and practise. WONDER is looking forward to continuing our work, creating sustainable and transformative change in the lives of women and girls throughout the world.