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Maryam Sheikh selling her silk

Women acting as catalysts for change, redressing the gender balance

Maryam

Afghanistan

Maryam Sheikh is a board member of Zanan-e- Herat Silk Production Company. The company has an all-women board and is the regular income source for 750 women. It is an example for many women who want to overcome social and cultural barriers and enter the labour force.

As Maryam points out ‘The families have benefited in various ways from this programme. Women spend their income on their children and send them to school to create a better future for them." 

Silk products are now being sold in new markets, including overseas. 

Myat-Thuzar-Htun

Myanmar

The story of Myat Thuzar Htun is an example of how women are bringing peace through dialogue in their communities. She is a student from the Rakhine states which have been in a state of constant conflict stemming from differences in cultures, assumptions and prejudices.

Myat joined the Christian Aid supported Bridging the Gap programme which encourages peace building processes in communities through dialogue. She attended training on conflict, peace and dialogue and with her friends, she organised dialogue sessions, inviting people from different communities to participate. These sessions became platforms where communities learned about the lives and experiences of other ethnic communities for the first time and started recognising the beauty and value of diversity.

As Myat says, “Conflict doesn’t have to be a negative word. It can also be an opening, an opportunity for change”.

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Rose at her mine

Zimbabwe

Rose is an example of a woman entreprenuer in Zimbabwe with a difference - she is an artisanal miner. She is one of a group who combine mining with farming, and with what they earn from the mines they buy livestock, educate their children, enlarge their farming, pay school fees for orphans, and give back to the community. The women also act as mentors to one another. "My desire is for women to be raised up,’ Rose says.

They have adopted a holistic approach to mining to ensure sustainability for future generations. Women miners are already breaking through the barriers and standing out as formidable entrepreneurs and change makers in Zimbabwe. 

Roxana with her solar oven

Bolivia

Roxana Anez is an indigenous woman, President of a women’s organisation in the Tacana territory of the Bolivian Amazon.

 “We were invisible! I felt so frustrated. That’s why I decided to become a representative in the women’s organisation in my indigenous territory”, recalls Roxana.

Roxana has been the driving force behind the solar ovens, a project that focuses on renewable energy, funded by Christian Aid and implemented by our partner Illimani.

Her community has traditionally relied on firewood for cooking, but it is expensive, and people have to travel far to get it. With the natural fuel being scarce and expensive, the solar ovens have become a precious tool, saving time and money.

We identified the serious problem of our dependency on firewood for cooking, which led not only to deforestation but also to health problems caused by hours spent cooking over a smoky fire pit. Not to mention the difficulties and long hours spent by women in searching for dry fuel especially during recent years when we have experienced prolonged rainy seasons”, Roxana says.

Although the cooking time doubles when using solar ovens, compared with the traditional ones, they do not need permanent attention. Instead of going to collect wood, women now have more time for activities such as making garments and handicrafts and take part in community activities.

The project has improved the lives of 250 families that live in this part of the Amazon.

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