MATCH remains committed to advancing women’s rights and equality by working with partners and grassroots organizations. Below are a few examples of our latest projects.
Providing Income, Securing Education
How Mothers’ Groups are Using Hygiene Products to Create Opportunities for Women in Rural Malawi
In Malawi, over half the population live in poverty due in part to missed educational opportunities. Recent data indicates that only 69% of Malawian women are literate, compared to 81% of men. As a result, the wage gap between men and women remains high, and the majority of rural women work as subsistence farmers in the agricultural sector.
One current barrier to gender equality in education in Malawi is the of lack clean and comfortable sanitary hygiene products for young women. On average, girls miss 3 – 5 days per month of school when menstruating. A group of women in Malawi have found a creative solution to this problem while simultaneously addressing the lack of economic opportunities for women in rural parts of the country.
Joining together to form Mothers’ Groups in local schools, women are working together to develop and produce reusable, locally-sourced cotton sanitary pads. Provided to their daughters for free and sold in the community to other women, these pads are bringing income to local mothers while helping girls stay in school. As a result, girls’ attendance and, subsequently, their performance in school has improved. MATCH, through a partnership with like-minded organizations WUSC and FAWEMA, is helping to bring this program into new communities throughout the country.
The African Women’s Development Fund
In 1999, three women’s rights activists from Africa, including former MATCH board member, Joana Foster, founded the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF). Fed up with the victimization of African women and recognizing the need to demonstrate the role of African women’s organizations as agents of change, this fund was formed with the mandate to support women’s development efforts by raising money and providing grants to non-profit women’s groups in Africa that work for social justice, equity and peace.
During that first year, MATCH provided AWDF with a seed grant to transform their idea into a prosperous organization. Within two years the organization was supporting 90 projects in 29 African countries.
And they didn’t stop there. Since 1999, AWDF has provided $17 million to 800 women’s organizations in 42 African countries. AWDF has been catalytic in the maintenance and expansion of movements for women’s rights in Africa and has won numerous international awards recognizing its outstanding contribution to women’s rights across Africa.
But year after year, AWDF has faced the grim reality that the demands for funds outweigh its giving capacity. This year, MATCH re-established its relationship with AWDF to support their continued success.
Strengthening Support for Victims of Sexual Violence
Improving Reproductive Health Services through Midwife Training in the DRC
For many years now, the war-torn DRC has held the distressing title of being the worst place in the world to be a woman. The country gets this unfortunate label in part because of its brutally high rates of sexual violence. A 2011 study reported that over 1.7 million Congolese women have been raped in their lifetime, most often by armed combatants. Women in the eastern provinces and rural areas of the country have the highest likelihood of experiencing sexual assault yet health services for women are not widely available in these remote areas.
As a result, when a victim of sexual violence survives an attack, they are often left to cope with serious psychological and physical traumas on their own. These impacts can last a lifetime, especially if the survivor becomes pregnant. Training local midwives is one way to better support victims of sexual violence in the DRC.
MATCH International is currently supporting a project in South Kivu, Eastern DRC, to better equip local midwives in their delivery of services to rape survivors. Together, we are investing in the range of skills midwives need to manage this very complex reality, and, ultimately, to support the all too many victims of rape and sexual violence along their long road to recovery.
Challenging Barriers for Afro-Peruvian Women in Political Space
Partnering with World University Service of Canada (WUSC), and the Centro Desarrollo De La Mujer Negra Peruana (CEDEMUNEP), MATCH has launched a project in the Afro-Peruvian communities in Lima and the Ica Region of Peru.
Afro-Peruvians in general have the lowest levels of primary, secondary and tertiary education and experience poverty levels lower than the national average. Afro-Peruvian women are one of the most marginalized and under-represented groups in political and public spheres.
The project therefore seeks to increase the influence of Afro-Peruvian women in the political and public spheres, in particular, to empower emerging and established women leaders within their communities.
Groups of women will work together to develop leadership and public speaking skills, as well as improve their knowledge of the political process in Peru (citizen rights, consultation mechanisms, functions of local government, etc.). The project will also facilitate mentoring relationships between women, men and community leaders.
Click here to read about MATCH’s past grantees.