Uplifting & Protecting
ADRA puts a focus on women and girls because they are the most vulnerable to the devastating effects of poverty and crisis. When we invest in education and livelihoods for women, everyone benefits. Families are healthier, communities are stronger, and economies are improved.
Our programs are community-based and involve the entire family so that our efforts effectively increase knowledge, change behavior, and are sustainable. We consider gender equity and shifting negative sociocultural norms as a cross-cutting intervention for all of our programs.Donate Today
The Inspired Girl
Democratic Republic of Congo
Beryl Hartmann had just begun an internship with ADRA in Nepal when she encountered a woman who changed the course of her career. Beryl shared with us the story of a teacher and community leader in one of Nepal’s many disadvantaged, rural communities who is empowering people to change their world for generations to come.
For more than a decade, Niruala Shrestha and her community have devoted themselves to creating a brighter future for their children. It hasn’t been business leaders or even community elders who have driven this vision forward–but women like Niruala, who’ve kick-started change from the ground up.
Nala, Beryl told us, was a region without hope. The community’s agricultural backbone had been exploited by the corporations of Kathmandu. Families went hungry, children were denied an education, and the women were abused. Sadly, it was the women of Nala who suffered the most.
“But she’s more than a teacher,” Beryl said. “Niruala leads a women’s cooperative in planning, funding, and implementing a raft of community-driven improvement programs.”
It started with literacy and health education, before ADRA introduced training in agricultural and financial skills, helping families in Nala to achieve a more substantial and stable income. In many cases it was the women who benefited most; the skills they learned unlocked an equality they’d never had before.
ADRA then helped farmers diversify crops and increase productivity. A collection center, which served as a community-owned and operated wholesaler, was established, enabling the community to demand higher prices for their produce and taking away the bargaining power of the big grocers from Kathmandu. During the harvest season, up to 20 truckloads of produce would be purchased from this center each day.
Then ADRA introduced microfinance training and established a women’s savings club, which soon grew to more than 1,000 members, leading to the establishment of a women’s cooperative group
It is this cooperative, with the support of ADRA’s ongoing leadership training, that Niruala is driving to improve Nala and the lives of its people. Some of the changes the collection center and cooperatives have generated in Nala are obvious–things such as new toilets, family-owned scooters zipping about as they do business, and children smiling as they walk to school. But some of the most important changes risk going unseen, because what you don’t see is the fact that the women of Nala have discovered economic freedom.
Thanks to ADRA’s training and their own commitment to change, women like Niruala have taken out life-changing loans or won grants to start and grow their businesses.
In many cases, the women are becoming the breadwinners of the family! What an amazing change.But more than providing freedom from poverty, this type of empowerment has freed the women from something far more troubling–abuse. You see, before ADRA came to Nala, almost every married woman had experienced abuse. Today, not one woman in Niruala’s community is beaten by her husband
Why? Because despite still not experiencing cultural equality, the women of Nala have economic power; they are the only ones who can access loans from the women’s savings cooperative. The men know it–and they love it. At last, the women of Nala are seen as valuable and abuse has all but disappeared. We can praise God for that!
Women like Niruala are empowered through your support. When you give to empower women, you are pouring into a whole community. Please give today and help women transform not only their families but their villages and towns.
The Inspired Girl
The Inspired Girl
10 year-old Genet is a third grade student who lives with her poor peasant parents in Gubeta Arjo Kebele of Ethiopia and attends the Gubeta Arjo Primary School. She has a strong interest in learning and wishes to become a teacher in the future. However, due to a lack of awareness from her parents, the surrounding community and the school community, she did not feel supported or empowered to realize her dreams of becoming a teaching.
ADRA Ethiopia’s Strengthening Equity and Access to Quality Education (SEAQE) project trains teachers and school management committees on the significance of empowering girls through education. In addition to this, an advocacy campaign was carried out in this region to increase the awareness of the local community about this issue.
For Genet the school supplies her with educational materials and her teacher provides tutorial classes for both Genet and her peers with particular attention given to reading. This has motivated Genet to be a more active student during group activities. These special aids have enabled Genet to become alert and diligent in her learning.
As a result of this her academic performance has shown a remarkable improvement with her coming first in the whole class with a score of 99.5% in the first semester of this year.
Genet says thank you to ADRA Ethiopia and the NORAD SEAQE project which played a big role in increasing her academic performance. It is her wish that this support continues to extend to all girls in her community.
The Strengthening Equity and Access to Quality Education (SEAQE) project is funded by NORAD and ADRA Norway.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Valerie* is 16, the mother of a 4-month-old baby, and a victim of rape. When she was just 14 years old, soldiers patrolling the road into town took her by force and sexually assaulted her. Afraid of the stigma attached to rape, she kept it a secret.
In Valerie’s hometown of Bweremana in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), gender-based violence is often regarded as a nuisance instead of a serious and life-altering crime. When Valerie finally returned home, she was too ashamed to tell anyone what had happened, but it soon became obvious that she was pregnant.
People in her town began to mock her, jeering, “Where is the father?” The teasing became so bad that she refused to leave the house.
It is because of girls like Valerie that ADRA operates Ongea, a project named for the literal meaning of the Swahili word ongea: “speak up.” Ongea encourages women to speak up against rape and sexual assault and against the people who perpetrate and condone it. In addition to supporting victims of gender-based violence, Ongea strives to combat the prevailing cultural attitude that enables it.
By creating listening committees comprised of community members, and counseling groups of influential local leaders, ADRA has developed a system to value women and devalue crimes against them. Ongea also spreads awareness through radio broadcasts and cultural activities.
This project has galvanized the women of Bweremana, many of whom feel empowered for the first time in their lives. “I want to combat gender-based violence,” said local listening group member Vomili Ngengeisi. “I want to help girls like Valerie.”
Though still suffering from the trauma of her experience, Valerie has hope that Ongea will continue to speak up against gender-based violence in her community. Of her own future, she is modest: “I dream about finding a husband who will love me.”
*Name has been changed to protect her identity.
Fifteen-year-old Confridah started high school with excitement. She excelled in her studies and had plans to go to a university in the future. Her father had different plans.
He had secretly found a husband for his daughter, and keeping with the custom in many parts of Kenya, he was going to have her circumcised.
Female circumcision, more accurately known as female genital mutilation (FGM), is a pervasive cultural practice that scars, damages, and sometimes even kills the women and girls who undergo the process. Age is rarely a factor, with reports of girls as young as 4 and 5 years old being circumcised.
When Confridah learned of her father’s intentions, she ran away from home. She wanted to stay in school and receive an education, not become a tragic statistic. Church leaders sheltered her until she was able to connect with ADRA, an agency she was assured could help her.
ADRA works hard to eradicate FGM in Kenya by implementing programs like the Girls’ Empowerment project. These programs educate girls about their body and their rights, as well as rescue girls whose body and rights are being violated.
Also provided are life skills workshops that teach vulnerable girls and their families the value of a healthy woman and provide assistance in vocational training and school enrollment.
Thanks to the Girls’ Empowerment project in Kenya, 670 girls have been saved from FGM.
Confridah is one of those girls. ADRA helped reenroll her in school, and she is now an academic and female rights mentor with the ADRA school program, Kenya’s Girls’ Club. The 20 girls in this club meet regularly to organize community outreach so they can encourage and empower other young girls.
ADRA believes in the power of women like Confridah, whose passion ignites people around her to create change.