Numerous research studies have shown that if you want to speed change within a region, a nation, or a community, help the women in that group. Often it’s women who shoulder the extra burden when their families or their societies are facing tremendous difficulties like suffering poverty or surviving a disaster. Whether they raise food, work at jobs, operate businesses, educate children or provide for their communities in other ways, women get the job done. At the same time, however, women are typically paid less, are often victims of abuse, receive less education, and in many places, have fewer legal rights than men.
In order to help heal the world more efficiently, we must pay special attention to assisting our mothers, our daughters and our sisters achieve their goals. As the world is coming to understand, gender equality doesn’t just help women, it helps everyone.
Here are a few brief examples of how Tzu Chi programs in various countries have helped women to cope with their present challenges and chart a brighter course for themselves and their children.
Ermionne Simeon, a recent graduate of the secretarial school, is grateful for the education and those who helped her attend it by obtaining a tuition loan. She is full of optimism and looking ahead.
“Now that I’m done I’ll apply for a job and then go back to University, to study administration just like I planned … and keep going,” she said. “I think I’m ready to start working and be successful.”
“I have been working here since 2009,” said school Principal Vilma Guiroz. “But in 2009, this building didn’t exist. At that time, we were working in a shed made out of sheet metal. And that was where we used to give our classes.”
Guadalupe Herrera Reyes is a single mother whose son, Jeremy, is a fourth grade student there.
“In this community, there are lots of single moms, the dads left. Me, I’m a widow. It’s been 10 years. He was only 2 months old when his dad was killed. For me this school is an enormous help. I’m happy that he is studying hard for the time when I won’t be here so that he can have a future.”
Felicia, now a teenager, is an alumna of the school. She, her sister and mother have been inspired by their experiences with Tzu Chi and have started volunteering to help others.
“I feel so happy because not a lot of people have this chance”, says Felicia. Not a lot of people have their way of thinking and the wish to help so many people. Of course I need help, everybody here needs help, but I know that there are always people in bigger needs than me and in that case I have to help them. And that feels really good.”
Yessenia Nunez, a local resident described the changes in her life since Tzu Chi arrived.
“They have helped me. And I know what it feels like not having a roof you can sleep under. And I know that there are still people who are living the way I used to live. I have received. Now, I have to give, not money because I don’t have any but I help the people in need with my work.”