“If you educate a woman, you educate children and we then get a better future in the country,” explains Awa Diarra. Awa lives in a village called Kodian in Mali.
Awa was taught to read and write through an ADRA Mali project supported by ADRA Sweden. The training not only taught her how to read but about women’s right to education. Now she is teaching other women and is raising her voice on the issue of women’s right to education.
Today she can help her grandchildren with their homework, her youngest son is soon graduating from high school! Something she never believed possible before the training.
“Before I learned how to read and about my rights] I had nothing to say and no one listened to me at home and of course I could not raise my voice in the village. But today I am respected, even by the leaders in the village. I am a teacher in the adult literacy classes that earlier only would be led by men. Women learn easily if they are given a chance and they should have the same right as men to education! Strangely, men don’t realize that by teaching a woman, you teach the future generation.”
Awa has become a great champion for girls and women’s right to education and her village in Mali is an example of this. ADRA changes the world! In the case of Awa, and other women whom ADRA assists with skills, knowledge about their rights and how to raise their voices, changing just one life has had the impact of changing the lives of everyone around her, and the opportunities people in her village have.
WHY IS ADRA ENGAGED IN ADVOCACY?
Women and girls are frequently systemically marginalized by social customs and legal norms. Yet, the economic empowerment of women is the key to development. Therefore, to achieve economic development goals, social and legal structures inhibiting the full participation of women in the economy must be lifted. They won’t, however, lift on their own. Every restriction has a constituency who supports it. Only through effective advocacy will the social and political norms that negatively impact women and girls change. The same can be said for any cultural and legal norm that restricts access to education, healthcare, economic opportunity and justice.
Advocacy is a way to address the systemic and structural barriers of development, improving the probability that ADRA’s projects will have a lasting impact. Further, the entire NGO sector, when combined, is relatively small compared to the economic weight of the corporate and government sectors. Advocacy can help bend the economic weight of the corporations and governments towards activities that empower the poor and marginalized.