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The Key to Gender Equality

When you sat down at your computer this morning, you didn’t think twice about typing in the Web address you wished to visit: email, news, social media, Zoe Empower’s blog. You simply typed it in, and within a few seconds, you were there reading, scrolling, clicking your way around. 

But, you would have noticed if every vowel on your keyboard was frozen in place. How frustrating to click ‘a’s’ and ‘e’s’ and ‘o’s’ and ‘i’s’ and ‘u’s’ and have nothing appear on your screen but a blinking cursor. In a single moment, your entire keyboard became obsolete because its core function depends on the effective operation of every key. 

If we compared extreme poverty to a computer keyboard, the eight areas of life addressed by the Zoe Empowers program can each be equated to a single key. If one key stops working, the orphaned or vulnerable child is unable to get to where he or she is trying to go—out of poverty forever. 

Individually, each letter (or area of poverty) holds significance, but the real value unfolds when keys are strung together to create meaningful words and sentences. One way Zoe Empowers has demonstrated this multi-faceted impact is through gender equality.

Gender equality falls under the Child Rights area of training that every empowerment group receives. Often times, women and girls are isolated from men in many empowerment programs around the world. Overwhelmingly, efforts are focused on helping women and girls gain equal access to health, economic, educational and other opportunities, without actively engaging men and boys as allies, or helping both genders understand the way they can benefit from gender equality. 

Zoe Empowers has opted to take a gender transformative approach, where young girls and women are not only provided equal access to every resource and training received by the young boys and men in their peer group, but both genders are educated on the benefits of forming and promoting equitable relationships. 

A gender transformative approach leads to higher levels of collaboration, connectedness, and social and economic well-being within the empowerment group. And, as Zoe Empowers group members embed themselves into their community through businesses and leadership roles, their expanded view on gender equality inevitably spills into the broader population. 

So, if Child Rights is one letter on a keyboard, gender equality becomes the ‘shift’ key. To capitalize and help young women stand tall and become empowered for the long haul, they need unwavering supportive equality from their male peers.

This International Women’s Day, we are proud to celebrate the tens of thousands of girls and women who have broken the cycle of extreme poverty with Zoe Empowers. But, acknowledging the tens of thousands of young men who are working to create new norms and ideas about gender and masculinity in their community is equally as important. Together, we are all contributing to the UN’s  Sustainable Development Goal of achieving gender quality and empowering all women and girls. 

A monthly gift of $8 over 3 years empowers one orphaned child across eight areas of life including #genderequality. Lasting sustainable change starts with equal rights.

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