March 8, 2021
This International Women’s Day is centered on the ways women are challenging gender bias and using their leadership platforms to forge a gender-equal world. Today, World Relief celebrates the achievements of women and girls who persevered through the many social, economic, and COVID-19 related challenges of the past twelve months to help transform their communities for the better.
The difficulties of the pandemic have been deeply felt, and its exposure has awakened us to the collective change we want and need to see take place.
Women play a vital role in building and strengthening communities, and we honor their commitment to seeing our world transformed.Over the past 77 years, World Relief has remained committed to empowering women and improving their health, safety and well-being. Over 80% of those who directly benefit from World Relief’s programs are women and children.
“Today, we join with millions of others around the world in celebration of women everywhere who are challenging their communities to change, even through their suffering,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief. “Their leadership is challenging gender norms, changing beliefs, shifting systems and combating systemic injustice. They are strong, courageous women whose stories are worthy of honor and celebration. They challenge us to dig deeper, push harder and speak louder.”
On a national and international scale, World Relief is equipping women to lead as agents of change in the transformation, restoration and development of their communities. In the Maasai community of Kajiado, Kenya, for example, just one way gender inequality manifests itself is through female genital mutilation (FGM), a harmful practice that 78% of girls in the community face. Girls and women in the Maasai community and beyond have little to no agency over their futures. And yet, seeds of change are taking root as we work to facilitate change and community transformation. In partnership with local churches, World Relief is teaching women and men of God to embrace the concept of “Imago Dei,” a Latin phrase meaning “image of God.”
“In places like Kajiado, South Sudan, and Burundi, we are seeing men and women begin to speak out against cultural beliefs that harm or marginalize young girls and women,” says Karen González, World Relief director of human resources. “There remains much work to be done both internationally and through our U.S. offices serving on the forefront of refugee resettlement, but we are committed to continuing the journey together through programs that promote the well-being and thriving of women and girls.”
World Relief celebrates our U.S.-based women in leadership and volunteers, including our many Community Ambassadors, who have persevered through the challenges presented by the pandemic to find creative solutions for helping refugee families thrive through change. World Relief has focused on increasing gender balance in leadership roles at all levels of staffing, a change that has manifested in an increased proportion of women in all our staff roles, with a special focus on most senior roles.
“These accomplishments would not be possible without leadership in each country’s office understanding and prioritizing gender equality, not only through their own actions, but by addressing gaps recognized organizationally and programmatically,” says Eeva Sallinen Simard, project director for the SCOPE project and gender focal point. “World Relief is committed to raising the value of women and their insight in every community we serve.”
“We choose to challenge gender inequality that is all too commonplace in our world. Over the past year, research shows that women and girls have disproportionately experienced the consequences of COVID-19. I’m pleased to know that today President Biden adopted several of our key recommendations around addressing gender-based violence, including through an executive order appointing a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence; mandating a National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence; updating the 2016 U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally; and focusing on Gender-Based Violence as an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jenny Yang, senior vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief.
Please take a moment to read our digital magazine for Women’s History Month.
About World Relief
World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that brings sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems – disasters, extreme poverty, violence, oppression, and mass displacement. For over 75 years, we’ve partnered with churches and community leaders in the U.S. and abroad to bring hope, healing and transformation to the most vulnerable.
Learn more at worldrelief.org.
To download a PDF version of this press release, click here.