On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the amazing things that happen when women join forces.
On International Women’s Day—just like every day—Oxfam stands side-by-side with women in their fight for power over their lives, quest to live free from violence, and their participation in decision making that affects their futures.
Oxfam has worked with women and girls for decades to help them overcome gender discrimination, assume leadership roles in their communities, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.
We believe that women who gain power over their own lives and who take collective action in their communities are important drivers of sustained improvements in women's rights and are a powerful force to end poverty—not only for women and girls, but for others too.
Saving for Change
One of our most well-known programs is Saving for Change, a community-based program that educates groups of women in rural villages to save their money regularly, borrow from their group’s fund, and repay loans with interest.
Rubelina Guevera, a single mother of two, started two stores in Calvario, El Salvador, using loans and savings from her women’s saving group, which is called Saving for a New Life.
“When women earn an income, it makes them no longer dependent on men, so they have respectability,” says Conchi Maravilla, a coordinator for Oxfam in El Salvador. “The women support each other, and it radiates out into the community.”
Kaltoum Mohamed, a midwife in Golo village, Sudan, took out a small loan through a Saving for Change group in Darfur to purchase medicines and equipment. Her services are essential to villagers who are unable to get to the capital city six miles away for health care. Now, she contributes significantly to her children’s school fees, and her family eats three times a day instead of two.
Oxfam also works with local organizations to help women recover from traumas.
More than a million South Sudanese refugees are living in Uganda; those in refugee camps are still processing the horrors of war. And for women, another threat looms: gender-based violence. Oxfam’s partners Community Empowerment for Rural Development and African Women and Youth Action for Development are organizing women’s groups to serve as safe spaces for women to talk freely, raise awareness about services available, and take action against domestic violence.
In rural Ahuachapan, El Salvador, volunteers at the Shaira Ali Center are training women, students, and activists in 29 nearby communities on how to prevent violence. The goal is to train as many people as possible so more women and girls learn about their basic rights and how to protect them.
Encouraging economic empowerment
With training from Oxfam, the women of the Tuzamurane pineapple cooperative in Eastern Rwanda are thriving. Profits from pineapple sales are re-invested into the business and shared among members. With their earnings, the women are able to send their children to school, pay for healthcare, buy land, and even invest in other small businesses.
Mariam Tawfeeq Matlaq is a plumber in Jordan who works with Oxfam to train women in her community in basic plumbing skills. So far, more than 400 women have received training.