Economic pressures are encouraging more women to challenge taboos and find success in roles traditionally held by men in some developing countries, says Mark Wilson, Executive Director of Panos London. To mark the centenary year of International Women's Day on March 8, Panos London has produced a case study media pack profiling extraordinary women from around the world who have taken on roles previously deemed just for men.
Breaking Barriers: Women in a Man's World is a showcase of exceptional women who are breaking stereotypes to change their own lives and inspire other women and girls around them. The media pack features mothers who have become builders in Brazil, a Ugandan fisherwoman who has broken into the traditionally male fishing industry on Lake Victoria, an all female taxi service in Delhi, a woman union leader in South Africa and Afghanistan’s only woman governor.
Mark Wilson, Executive Director, Panos London said: “Women have traditionally played a crucial role in the progress of their families but are now pushing for a level platform by breaking taboos and inspiring others to do the same. Whilst we know there is some way to go for developing countries to meet the Millennium Development Goal 3 targets, there are outstanding examples of triumph that help point the way forward.
"This media pack has been produced by Panos London to show that anything is possible if people are enabled to make a contribution. The women profiled in this pack demonstrate that they can overcome inequalities that hinder access to education or work. These case studies are testimony that female empowerment is one of the most important factors in speeding up the rate of change in societies around the world."
Raquel Barros who teaches construction skills to women in Sao Paulo, Brazil said on the response to more women joining the trade: "We can see that the prejudice is slowly giving place to the recognition of their work, even in such a masculine field of work. Now people are recommending their services because they are meticulous and better organised than the men."
Breaking Barriers: Women in a Man’s World features case studies on the following women:
* Afghanistan: Habiba Sarobi, the first and only female governor in Afghanistan
* Brazil: Raquel Barros, who set up a programme to teach construction skills to young mothers who are trying to get off the streets so that they can build their own houses
* Brazil: Dagmar Garroux (Tia Dag) set up a school in the favelas of São Paulo which has helped to promote the education of girls in an area where culturally they were kept at home
* India: Savita Tomar, a chauffeur and taxi driver who works in Delhi, providing safer transportation for women
* Uganda: Rebecca Namyanji, a fisherwoman who has set up her own fishing business on Lake Victoria
* South Africa: Wendy Pekeur, general secretary of South Africa’s first non-political farmer’s union, dedicated to empowering women farm workers
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the most broadly supported comprehensive and specific development goals ever agreed upon. MDG Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women specifically examines the role of women and girl’s participation in education, politics and economics.
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