Women in developing countries are without any doubt the key to a better future. They are the ones who bring up the next generation to shape the world. They usually re-invest their money in their children‘s health, nutrition and education. And they deserve our help to raise their children in a stable, healthy environment.
These women face countless challenges. Every day, thousands of them are victims of violence, including sexual abuse, trafficking and early and forced marriage. Malnutrition, metabolic disorders and gynecological issues create major health problems. In 2015, roughly 303.000 women worldwide died from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. In addition, for every woman who died in childbirth, dozens more suffered injury, infection or disease. In most developing countries, there are far fewer girls than boys to be found in secondary schools and it is therefore harder for them to find good jobs. Economic difficulties, excessive workload, indebtedness and constant worries about their family are almost inevitable consequences.
No wonder that depression is very common in women in developing countries. Some community surveys report prevalence rates exceeding 50%. A lack of prospects, poor health conditions, permanent stress and a low level of self-esteem and self-efficacy add up to a fatal cocktail of mental and emotional paralysis.
URIDU provides vital information that empowers these women and helps them change their living conditions. We therefore developed the URIDU 3 Step Model of Empowerment.
Step 1: Health Information and Prevention
The basic step is to help a woman improve her physical and mental health. We do so by telling her how she can prevent common health problems by simple means of hygiene or nutrition, or how to protect herself from infections, or how to take good care of herself in periods of special sensitivity (like during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, for example). Being in good health is the base condition sine qua non for any other empowerment step. Only a woman who feels sane and strong can successfully deal with other challenges.
Step 2: Life Skills and Resilience
The second step is to help a woman improve her family situation. In many families in developing countries, women have little influence over important household decisions (such as family planning, health care, daily household spending etc.). Studies show that this can put their own health as well as their children‘s health at risk. Empowerment through knowledge is key in the fight against practices that deny women a say in household decisions. For example, every woman deserves to have control over her reproductive life. Due to the lack of reliable contraceptive methods, unwanted pregnancies are a big problem for millions of women in developing countries. Therefore, we provide them with helpful information on family planning, as well as information about safe abortion (where legal). We also give advice how to deal better with and take their stand in family conflicts (e. g. with husband or in-laws), or how to protect themselves against domestic violence.
Step 3: Self-Esteem and Financial Empowerment
The final step to empower a woman is to help her reach financial independency. As most of the societies in developing countries base on a strictly patriarchal system, women traditionally are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of economic affluence because they earn less than men and tend to own fewer assets; often they are even totally excluded by law from owning property. Education is key to change here; therefore many of our contents deal with the topic of equality of men and women, as well as the importance of providing girls with the same education and economic opportunities as boys.