Mary, a former sponsored child, is now a teacher.

Women have been empowered to transform their lives

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias and discrimination.

That’s the premise for 2022 International Women’s Day.

It's hard enough to imagine this becoming a reality in the UK, but for those women living in more fragile countries is there any hope?

Yes! And you can find out why – and how. World Vision is promoting a coffee and cake event on 8 March to coincide with International Women’s Day. Throw a coffee morning and help others discover the amazing stories of four women from different parts of the globe: women who have faced the direst of circumstances, but who were empowered to overcome their difficulties and transform their lives. And who are now transforming the lives of many more women and children.

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Pauline, a former sponsored child, on the day of her graduation

Former sponsored girl's strength comes from within

One of the women we’re celebrating is Pauline from Kenya. She was trained to be a Turkana wife and can make traditional huts, milk a goat, cow and camel. But she wanted more, so much more.

From a humble nomadic family of six siblings, she says: “Men are empowered with all the decision-making while women are voiceless and obliged to be submissive. Girls are denied rights to education and are subjected to cruel cultural practices in the name of training to be housewives.

“I was determined not to follow. My childhood was turbulent but I learnt many hard – and useful – lessons. I learned hard work, resilience and the benefits of multi-tasking.”

Pauline managed to study, even going on to complete a masters degree and is now doing PHD research on flood risk management at Coventry University.

Be an inspiration to other women

“I chose a water-related course as I had my village’s water situation on my mind, particularly the women and children who are the most affected by the crisis. Perhaps I could even save the future life of a girl or woman from this daunting struggle. I wanted to change the narrative in Turkana in a small way.

“I would like to be an inspiration and motivation to all the girls from nomadic communities to pursue their dreams. The struggle is real. Obstacles are temporary, but how to overcome them all depends on you. Your strength is within you.”

At 13, marriage ended her dreams. Now Anuradha is fighting for a better future.

Child bride now prevents child marriages

Over in India and Anuradha’s story is very different. At just 13 she faced child marriage – and motherhood. It ended her dreams of becoming a teacher – or so she thought. Now 23, she’s a mother of three, a respected advocate for children in her community – and she’s back in education. “I began attending all the programmes conducted by World Vision in my community because I felt empowered by the knowledge I was acquiring,” says a joyful Anuradha.

She’s now preventing other child marriages.

“I know the difficulties of being married off at such a young age and I don’t want other girls to endure this.”

Mary, a former sponsored child, sits behind her desk, She is now a teacher

From sponsored child to teacher

Mary, from the Philippines, was sponsored as a child by World Vision. She is especially passionate about education after the challenges she faced. Now she wants to give back. “I want to inspire children, like I was inspired by my sponsor and World Vision, especially now in the context of COVID-19. Whenever my students need me, I make sure that I am there for them because I know how it feels to have someone rooting for you. I grew up not just with financial support but I also had support emotionally and spiritually. I can say that because of World Vision's help, I can now make a difference in the lives of other children."

Ahlam, hard at work

Grandmother and aid worker

Grandmother Ahlam is an aid worker and community leader living in Idlib, North-West Syria. She was forced to flee her home in 2012 due to conflict and began working as a humanitarian while living in a displacement camp in 2013. She has been with World Vision since last year and has trained more than 6,000 humanitarian workers on protection during her career. “Since I was young I felt a strong sense of purpose, justice and defiance. I worked as an Arabic teacher and gained a diploma in education after college. In response to the war we’re living through and its impact on the most vulnerable, particularly children and women, I am guided by the same defiance and pursuit of justice. I work with very strong and resilient women, but the conflict has worsened their oppression.

"Women feel more than others the pain of the loss of their homes and their old lives, and they suffer from back pain from living in an unheated tent and carrying heavy water buckets. I’ve heard many stories of women going into premature labour as they flee fighting in terror, or losing their babies due to domestic violence at the hands of their husbands.

“I do still have hope for a better future despite the hardship we’re living through – I believe God will not abandon us.”

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