This past February, PEP began our Women’s Empowerment Program! We are thrilled to pilot this program in 30 of our 84 villages. Our Program Coordinator, Hina, has great vision for these women and is excited to get underway. Before implementing any activities or meetings, PEP did an evaluation of the communities so that we would be able to measure and see the impact of the Women’s Empowerment Groups (WEG). The findings of the interviews are both bleak and encouraging. The women’s views on their importance and value are depressing, yet the opportunity for change through these groups is immense. Here is what we found out from the communities and women surveyed:
-70% think that girls need only secondary education (up to 8th class); the other 30% think they only need primary (up to 5th class).
-Only 3 of the 10 villages said that women have some control over how many children they have; in the other 7 villages the men have complete control.
-100% of the villages know that breastfeeding is better than giving a baby animal milk and practice this habit!
-None of the villages have equal wages for women and men.
-40% think it is okay for a man to hit a woman; 40% think it should only be allowed in certain circumstances; 20% think it is not acceptable, but still do not believe the man should be punished for his actions.
-8 of the 10 villages have some plan in place for conflict resolution, though it is directed by the men rather than the entire village; 1 had an egalitarian plan; 1 had no plan at all if a tribal dispute broke out.
-All the women we spoke with had arranged marriages and so will 80% of their daughters. The only daughters that will have some say in who they marry are the ones with an education.
This is only a selection of the questions, but it is a good taste of what the villages PEP works believe. Women from 10 different villages were interviewed, 5 of which will receive WEG and 5 that won’t. Each village had an average of 20-25 women present; they represent a population slightly greater than 5,000 people. Our hope is that a year from now we will go to the communities that had the WEG groups and see much positive change! If you would like to donate to these groups or to further girls’ education, click here (UK donors) or click here (all other donors).