Browse by Theme: Women's Voice

People have a certain image of what constitutes an emergency. To someone you ask in the street they would probably imagine panic, chaos and people desperately trying to save their families. And that is true but not always the case, as emergencies get more drawn out due to long-standing conflict, like in Syria, or are slow-burning crises such as Ethiopia’s drought brought on by the climate impacts of El Nino. In these situations, emergency is embedded in everyday life – thinking about the safest route to go to the market or children dropping out of school becomes a part of daily life. And this is when it is not so easy to differentiate humanitarian and development approaches as short-term creeps into long-term.

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In Cambodia, employing women to promote and sell beer in entertainment venues has long been a common way to market beer brands (both regional and international). CARE International in Cambodia sought to address the stigma and safety issues facing women employed to sell beer by working with industry-wide stakeholders to change norms and practices, and achieve long-term impact at several levels.

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In late April the MenEngage Alliance facilitated an online discussion to surface some of the more challenging issues around accountability when working with men and boys on women’s rights and gender justice. One of the things that I really appreciated from the dialogue was the focus on potentially negative impacts and men potentially accruing more power.

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Remember one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent history? 11 years ago, a Tsunami killed over 230,000 people in Asia and Africa, and devastated large parts of Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. The latter country was in the middle of a bloody civil war, which had lasted almost 30 years. Sri Lanka was not a good place to be, despite the beauty of its landscape and its people. 

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Last month I visited Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, to interview farmers and livestock traders faced with the drought effects of one of the most devastating El Niños in 50 years. What are their coping strategies in the face of extreme weather patterns? How are those strategies linked to national and international market systems? And how, through these systems, can we bring about a better deal for those in the supply chain typically made more vulnerable by drought – namely, women?

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“Two God’s heads cannot fit in the same pot” says a Rwandan idiom used to justify why women cannot head households. The words we use to describe and talk about gender and violence matter. And yet, when it comes to designing research questionnaires or interventions, the power of language can be forgotten, in our haste to get a programme going. But the potential for real change perhaps lies in the tiny idiosyncrasies of local language, even though it often takes time to uncover such nuances.

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When a charity video starts to go viral you know something is up. As part of its contribution to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, CARE Norway’s Dear Daddy film packs an emotional punch, and makes no apologies for dividing opinions.

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