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How Mothers' Union embraces equity this International Women's Day

Equity is at the heart of what we do

08 Mar 2023

The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. Unlike equality, equity understands that help needs to be tailored to each individual’s needs so everyone reaches the same level. Not all assistance will help in the same way, as everyone is unique and has different resources. An example to illustrate this is giving everyone the same pair of shoes. Not everyone has the same shape or sized foot, therefore the same shoe will not be suitable for all. It is best to give an individual  the shoe that fits their foot. Just as it best to give people the help that best fits their situation.

International Women’s Day 2023 wants to shine a light on the fact that equality is no longer enough and the focus now needs to be on equity. Equity is the new way we need to approach gender equality.

At Mothers’ Union, equity is at the heart of what our programmes achieve within local communities, providing individuals with tools, knowledge and means to lift themselves out of poverty.

One of our programmes in South Sudan looks at the startling difference of responsibility between the women and men in the society. This is called the 24 hour clock participatory learning activity.  It is known as the safest way to bring up gender equality in these communities. The 24 hour clock activity aims to highlight how much work and responsibility falls on the women in the family in a 24 hour period.

On the daily activity chart, the women’s day was filled with cleaning, washing, cooking and looking after the children. In contrast, the father of the family had activities such as reading the Bible, listening to the radio, going for prayers and community meetings, and watching sport. It reveals the difference in responsibility in the household. Despite the men believing they have a full day, the activity shows that this is not the case. By giving the women of the household this knowledge, it gives them the confidence to ask for help and raise their voice, not only for themselves but that of their children. It challenges former behaviours and shows how much the women of the family are doing alone.

This gave women in Juba the confidence to ‘give some duties to my children’ and release some of the burden of their daily life and give the male children added responsibility. ‘With sweeping I divide the area to the three small boys.’ The learning then trickles down further into the community from the initial training, one woman ‘educated the [neighbour] girl on the daily activity chart’. ‘I raised my voice about gender’ said one participant.

Mothers’ Union equips local communities with the tools they need to help themselves and the wider community. Not only do we fight for equality but we strive for equity. Due to this work, female participants have shared that their homelife and their workload has changed after the training. It is helping them get more support from their families with their household duties and sharing the burden.


Photo Credit: Taking Pictures, Changing Lives Foundation