International Women’s Day: Empowered Women Empower Communities

7 March, 2024

IsraAID

This International Women’s Day, we’re honoring all the different ways that women hold up their communities. Investing in women’s futures, in their skills, knowledge, education, and empowerment, supports everyone’s well-being.

Today, we’re sharing inspiring stories of women around the world, who took the knowledge and skills they learned and used them to support the people around them.  Empowered women empower communities. Join us as we celebrate women everywhere and the bright futures they are building for themselves and those who are dear to them.

Yusmeri – COLOMBIA

Yusmeri is a mother of seven and a Venezuelan migrant living in Colombia. When she took part in IsraAID Colombia’s Livelihood and Entrepreneurship program, she was able to grow her business. When she had to close her fried food stand due to unforeseen circumstances, she was able to adapt and begin selling meats door-to-door. She now acts as a mentor in IsraAID’s programs, supporting other women in the community as they develop their businesses. Yusmeri is an advocate for all the members of the community, working to help others settle their immigration status, and dreams of creating a youth program for young people in her community.

“IsraAID gave me new resources to foster my business: They showed me how to promote my business, taught me how to save, how to build my budget. All of that helped me a lot. I may not be a successful entrepreneur yet, but I’m already on my way. There are a lot of people who live day-to-day, and the salary they earn isn’t enough for a good standard of living. I want to implement the strategies I’ve learned to help them so that they can be sure that food reaches their tables every day. I dream of owning a big market one day so I can feed the families in my community.”

Carine – DOMINICA

Carine is a small business owner living in Dominica, a small, disaster-vulnerable island in the Caribbean. Diversifying the economy is a key national priority, and women-owned small businesses are a big part of that. IsraAID’s small business program helps women learn the business practices they need to follow their passions and support their community in the process.

My business is about creating unique gifts from recycled objects. This allows me to give back to others and help my community while reducing waste and recycling materials. I’ve gotten so much out of this training. We learned so much, from bookkeeping, stress management, risk management, and finances. The training motivated me as an individual, and my daughter can’t believe it’s me when I share the pictures and videos with her. She sees me as an entrepreneur, and I feel confident, refreshed, and have a lot of energy. I wake up every morning thinking about what’s coming next.”

 

Rose – MALAWI

Rose is a 65-year-old widow living in Blantyre. After Cyclone Freddy struck amid the country’s worst-ever cholera outbreak, she began volunteering at one of IsraAID’s Oral Rehydration Points. Despite having faced great personal tragedy in her life – 10 of her 12 children have passed away – she remains positive and actively works to support her community.

“When a mother comes in with a child who is weak from diarrhea or cholera, thanks to the training and knowledge I received, I can provide first aid to prevent dehydration. I can also check children for malnutrition and make sure severe cases get the help they need.”

“We volunteer at the Oral Rehydration point because we wish to see our community become healthy, with zero cases of cholera or malnutrition. Being an older woman doesn’t restrict me in my work, it motivates me to help the younger generation reach my age one day.”

 

Akiru – KENYA

Nagawangat village in Turkana County, Kenya, has been coping with the worst drought in 40 years. IsraAID drilled a new borehole in 2023, providing access to safe water to over 2,000 people. Akiru, a local mother of seven, is one of eight members of the local water management committee. As part of her training for the position, she learned how to maintain and repair the water system in case of emergency.

“In our culture, women are responsible for staying at home and caring for the children, but through IsraAID’s capacity-building training, I am now among the people who have the skills, knowledge, and responsibility to maintain and repair our village’s water system. I’m very motivated to have the community’s respect, very confident, and very proud that my community can rely on me to repair the pipes and taps in our village.”

 

Nelya – UKRAINE

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Nelya spent three months living in the basement of the school where she serves as headmaster. She managed the entire household of 200 displaced people living there with her. Since then, Nelya has worked to continue supporting her community. After participating in one of IsraAID’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Protection training for educators, she arranged additional training for all the school’s employees, including in first aid. Nelya then began coordinating efforts to create Child Friendly Spaces across the region, opening her school to run training for psychologists, teachers, and social workers of Chernihivska Oblast.

“If you’re someone who supports and empowers others, you need to make sure you’re filling your cup as well. IsraAID’s training helped me do that for myself. I learned to manage stress, provide psychological first aid to children and adults, and build non-violent communication. Thanks to those skills, I can take care of myself during times of turmoil while building a support system for children and adults at our school, and those who have been affected by the war in our community.”

Ofir and Shachar – ISRAEL

Since the attacks of October 7, IsraAID has been working to support displaced communities and support them in evacuation centers and on their journeys back home. Ofir, 44, and Shachar, 42, were displaced from their homes along with the rest of their community from the village of Yevul in southern Israel. Ofir immediately began working to provide services, schools, and more for community members who were sheltering at a hotel in the Dead Sea, where she first met IsraAID. Today, after the community left the Dead Sea, she and Shachar are helping lead the community in their return back home, and IsraAID is supporting them on that journey.

“IsraAID gave us the confidence and the emotional support to know that it would be okay and we could build these structures for the community. Community members needed to be together. All of these families – widows, people who had lost family members – needed the community support, and it’s been so important to help them reconnect,” said Ofir.

“IsraAID helped us regain control when we were at our darkest moment. Now we’re working together to rebuild the life we once had, and the reins are back in the community’s hands. I’m working to help my community go back home. I’ll do anything I can for my home and the people in it,” said Shachar.

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