Photo credits: A-E THION

Women are the first victims of crises, be they economic, political, security or climatic. On the occasion of International Women's Rights Day, Action Education calls on governments to protect and respect women's rights, starting with their right to participate in all decisions that affect them. 

In Afghanistan, following the arrival in power of the TalibanThey have been deprived of their fundamental right to education. In Burkina Faso, about fifty of them were kidnapped last January by terrorist groups, presumably for use as sex slaves. Ukraine, many of them testify to rape and sexual violence perpetrated by soldiers during the last months of the war.... During conflicts, there is no doubt that women are exposed to the worst violence and exploitation. But they are also the first victims of all other crises, whatever their nature (economic, political, health, climatic ...), and their rights are systematically violated.

With each crisis, their rights recede

The COVID-19 pandemic is a flagrant example. From the very first months of containment, anti-violence services and associations in all countries of the world, including France, sounded the alarm, warning of the sudden explosion of violence against women. In addition to this violence, the women were the first to lose their jobsWomen have been forced to bear more domestic burdens, including childcare, and to be deprived of health care. And while the consequences of this health crisis are far from over, other economic, political and security disasters have further aggravated the situation of the most vulnerable women. First of all, the sudden rise in food and energy prices has further increased their poverty level. In the world, women earn, on average, just over 50 % of what men earn and account for nearly 70% of the 1.5 billion people living on less than $1 a day. They hold the most precarious jobs and often lack access to credit, loans and inheritance. The decline in the purchasing power of families has also led to an increase in early marriages: a young married girl represents one less mouth to feed and the possibility of obtaining a larger dowry if the girl has all her honor has led to an increase in female genital mutilation.

Global warming, synonymous with loss of rights?

Femmes préparant le repas

Photo report / Mother and child

Because of their vulnerability and dependence on natural resources, women are more vulnerable to climate change. In many areas, especially rural areas, women play a key role in food production (up to 80%), they are responsible for water supply and fuel collection for cooking and heating, as well as food security. Thus, in times of drought or flood, they have to travel farther to fetch water, ensure that food is available, and tend to work more to secure their livelihoods, leaving less time for training or gainful employment.

Victims, condemned to silence? 

At the same time, due to the weight of socio-cultural norms and traditions, women's voices are not taken into account. Their ideas even less. Yet women are often the most capable of acting effectively and finding solutions. In the case of global warming, women have developed over the centuries methods of adaptation and management of natural resources, notably to collect and conserve water, preserve food or ration it. So much ancestral knowledge that they could share if they were consulted, if they were free to participate in decision making and if their words were heard

To ensure that women and girls are no longer victims of crises but actors, Action Education is committed to taking into account their specific needs and priorities in all its development projects. We also ensure that they are able to speak out, express their ideas and make themselves heard by public decision-makers. We call on governments to do the same and to ensure that women's rights, including their active participation in decision-making, are protected and respected.