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International Women's Day 2022
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias – a push towards a gender equal world that is free of bias, discrimination and stereotypes against women. These principles have consistently underpinned our work at Mothers’ Union through the decades, so this year, we highlight stories of empowered women who transformed their own lives showing that at Mothers’ Union we are committed to #BreakTheBias everyday!
When Jane from South Sudan found herself a single mum to three children under the age of five years, her most immediate concern was how to put food on the table and keep her family safe. Her limited literacy and numeracy skills, and previous reliance on her husband to provide for the family meant Jane felt vulnerable and alone, until she turned to her trusted Mother’s Union Unity group. Members of the group supported her through both prayer and action, which gave Jane the confidence to improve her literacy level as well as learn new business skills which she could use to reclaim her independence. Through her membership of the Mothers’ Union literacy and savings groups, Jane managed to set up a successful tea stall and support her children.
Jane surveyed potential customers to identify and prioritise their needs. Today, she sells spiced black tea, hibiscus tea and coffee. Each week, Jane makes a profit of SSP 6,000 (£15). Half of this profit feeds her children, who she now feels have more than enough to eat.
“We are healthy and have enough to eat, due to my income”
The Unity group is one of the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) supported by Mothers’ Union South Sudan. The programme empowers women to learn business skills and become entrepreneurs, increase the families’ wellbeing and become self-reliant. #BreakTheBiasMonica is a mum to three children between the ages of 7-17 . She lives in rural Tanzania, where access to financial stability is scarce. Despite these odds, she has built her own food shop and been able to expand the range of produce she sells through the savings she has accumulated. Through her business she is able to provide a much needed second income to her family, relieving financial pressures and sources of conflict from her marriage. All this was made possible by MU Vicoba (Village community bank) – a part of Mothers’ Union’s Savings and Credit programme.
“Since being a member I am more [financially] independent. I can do anything like paying my children’s school fees or paying for medication when they are sick. I don’t have to rely [only] on my husband anymore.”
Monica makes regular payments into the Vicoba social fund which can be used by group members in case of emergencies such as sickness or death of a loved one. Social funds in MU Vicoba provide piece of mind for women like Monica, as she is one of the 20 million citizens of Tanzania that can not afford medical insurance; By working and saving together, the group is able to be there for each other in times of need. #BreakTheBias
Priscilla is 52-year-old and lives in South Sudan. She married when she was just 13 years old. The education of girls was not seen as important, so for many years Priscilla could not read or write.
“A girl was viewed as a source of family income and so we were not allowed to go to school.”
And yet is was Priscilla’s dream to go to school to learn and be treated equally, given the same opportunities as her brothers. Fast forward 40 years and Priscilla learnt about the Mothers’ Union Literacy & Financial Education Programme (LFEP), in fact she was the first person to register, as she felt that her ‘dream had now been fulfilled.’ Priscilla has now finished the programme and her life has changed completely. Not only has she gained the ability to read and write - skills that open an untold number of doors, but she also gained a confidence that she will never lose.
Along with literacy skills she was able to become part of the group’s savings and loans scheme and as a result started a small business.
Priscilla can now make a family budget in order to spend the little money the family has more wisely.
“In the past... when my husband gave me some money, I really didn’t know how to spend it. It created some differences between me and my husband because sometimes I could not account for the money I was given.”
Priscilla had to wait many years to access education – a basic human right that holds back women and girls from having equal access to the future they want for themselves. #BreakTheBias