women empowerment

As we celebrate the International Women’s Day, we must reflect upon the challenges many women and girls face around the globe

International Women’s March

Whether a Rohingya refugee or a famous actress in Hollywood, being a woman requires an extra level of resistance and hope. The last few years have opened many eyes on the situation of women around the world, especially concerning sexual harassment and the fragility of the gender equality speech when it comes to true representation and parity on the work field.

Yet, we have much more to accomplish. Here are a few numbers from UN Women to consider: 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime; 830 women die every day from preventable pregnancy-related causes; and only 1 in 4 parliamentarians worldwide are women. It will be 2086 before we close the gender pay gap if present trends continue with no action.

What can we do as a society to accelerate equality in our world? Awareness campaigns surely help, as #MeToo and many other hashtags spread the message that we are equal in our experiences and concerns. We’ve learned that feminism is not the opposite of sexism, it’s solely the true hope to be equal in a broad, respectful way. Marches around the world passed the message that we, as women, own our bodies, our choices, our sexuality. That we must be heard and respected. But is it enough?

The new International Women’s Day theme this year is «Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Womens’ Lives». It celebrates strong, fearless activists whose work is key to all the transformations we’re witnessing as a society. More important than being a voice, they are role models for our girls and boys, the next generations that will hopefully put their message into practice. Activism is key, and female activism is the remedy to invisibility.

Despite a long history of prejudice and ignorance, these women are getting their voices increasingly heard. From Malala Yousafzai, who’s shown that education matters for girls, to Amal Clooney, who was brave enough to be the first lawyer to sue ISIS for its crimes, to Noriko Mitsui, Horyou ambassador to Japan, whose work for social good has been recognized by members of the US Congress and its Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force which ranked her among the Top 20 Women of Global Excellence. To mothers, waitresses, teachers, housewives, who fight against poverty, prejudice and domestic violence.

Many of them might not be able to march. I’m marching for them, though. I want to resonate their voices. Because #Timesup to be silent.

Written by Vívian Soares

Horyou supports the SDG5, which aims to empower women and girls for gender equality. You can be part of it too either by supporting one of Horyou organizations which work for this SDG or by participating in the Horyou Light Challenge, that aims to raise awareness of gender equality. Be the change, be Horyou!

A year ago, Sophie Gray was a very successful fitness influencer – her Instagram account @wayofgray was a plethora of selfies, abs and workouts which inspired many in the pursuit of the perfect body. Yet, in spite of all the praise and hundreds of thousands of followers, she felt she was not being honest with herself in promoting the unreachable idea of perfection. After a nervous breakdown, she decided to explore a new path – one that leads to self-acceptance. Today, Sophie advocates self-acceptance and aims to foster women empowerment on social media. In this interview, she talks about her inspirations, plans for the future and the responsibility of being a role model for the next generations.

Sophie Gray

Why did you decide to advocate self-love and acceptance?

We live in a world where we are at war internally. We have become so disconnected from ourselves and I experienced this personally. For me, I decided to advocate self-love and acceptance because I didn’t have any other choice. I needed it in my own world, and through my inner work, it flowed over to my professional work through my channels.

Was there a moment when you felt you could do something different from other health and fitness influencers?

I had a panic attack on an airplane that had me step back and evaluate my personal life. From there, I connected with how I truly felt and realized I didn’t want to show up through my accounts in the ways that I had been. From there I decided to completely step away from fitness and have refocused on inspiring others to connect with themselves through introspection.

How important is it for you to empower girls and women?

I struggled with self-harm in my youth, and this was before social media really took off. I couldn’t imagine going through what I went through with the added pressures brought on by social media. I actually am establishing a nonprofit that works with youth in school creating space for them to show up and dive into their relationship with themselves.

I believe women have such an important role in our society. Often, we are the ones who raise the next generations and when we have a mother who is strong, confident and feels at home within herself, we are able to teach the younger generations to feel the same.

This isn’t to say all women are going to have children. And regardless of whether they are or not, they are, in some way, a role model to those growing up. I know for myself personally, I want my self-acceptance to inspire others that they’re deserving of their own acceptance.

Sophie now advocates for self-acceptance

Tell us about the self-love challenge – when and why did you come up with the idea and what does it consist of?

I hosted a challenge from Jan 1st to 5th 2018. It was about having my followers commit to coming home to themselves. There is a stillness that exists within all of us – this stillness, rooted in love, also exists within everyone. I want those who follow me to make 2018 the year they come home to themselves by diving through what they go through. This involves sitting with themselves, working through their experiences and feeling at peace with themselves. This challenge was a fun way to start the new year committing to coming home to yourself.

What are your goals for 2018?

In 2018, I am launching an app that will help men and women start conversations with themselves that will lead to greater self-awareness, emotional resilience and help develop a better love and appreciation for yourself and others. This will be launching in April.

I also plan to have my new name changed account, @sophiegray (formly @wayofgray), focus more on my passion for writing – while focusing on encouraging others to take time to turn within.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG5 / Gender Equality.


Horyou team is at the GES!

The entrepreneurship world is moving fast and social innovation is now a matter of survival for most businesses. The level of personalities attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) on its first day in the Indian city of Hyderabad, alongside Ivanka Trump, advisor to the President of the United States, and Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, who took to the stage to address a large number of businesspersons and innovators before the international media, was a strong sign of the importance that social entrepreneurship has now reached economically, as well as politically.

On the 29th of November, today, the summit will hear Yonathan Parienti, founder and CEO of Horyou, the social network for social good, who will raise the attendees’ interest in the topic of “Go For It: Tapping Alternative Financing Solutions” and announce the official launching of Spotlight, the first digital currency for impact that supports philanthropy and economic inclusion. «We are very happy to share Spotlight with the world, a digital currency that we put the necessary time and effort to develop and test, and that aims to bring equality and inclusion for millions of people in the next few years », announced Parienti.

Narendra Modi at the GES

«Think how much better the world would be if all of us, men and women, are empowered to dream big, aim high, and work together towards a more just and prosperous future», said Ivanka Trump in her speech on the opening day. Spotlight is perfectly in line with that statement in that it has been developed to financially support organizations, projects and people whose work is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals on empowerment. As economic inclusion is one of GES’s major themes, especially regarding empowerment and opportunities for women, Spotlight is to be showcased as an alternative solution, notably in generating social and gender equality.

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the inviting country, highlighted the importance of private investment on promoting sustainable growth, especially in areas like sanitation, transparent policies and entrepreneurship. “Invest in India, for India and for the world”, he summoned.

GES is on!

We will keep you updated on Horyou’s contribution to the summit on www.horyou.com and our social media channels.

On the 25th of November, we celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As part of its support of the cause, Horyou interviewed Juncal Plazaola Castaño, UN Women Specialist on Ending Violence Against Women.

Orange the world is a UN Women Campaign for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

What is UN Women’s approach to the elimination of violence against women?

We focus on four areas of work. The first of them is to work with partners, governments, civil society and stakeholders to revise or approve legislations and policies that meet international standards. It does not only regard violence but also equality and opportunities issues, like divorce and custody. We also work to improve services provided to women, namely legal, social, police and security services. Another area is prevention of sexism, men privilege and men dominance. We do that through women empowerment and by promoting more positive masculinity. The fourth pillar is about evidence and data. In order to know the magnitude of the problem and make governments and actors aware of it, we need to collect evidence. We do this with our partners, mostly academic.

Have you scored any recent progress in these areas?

In the area of legislation, UN women was an important actor on defining legal age of marriage in Malawi and some places in the Caribbean, focusing on preventing child marriage. We also helped to implement Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces, a program that aims to address sexual harassment. We are working with 27 cities in developing and developed countries, like in Winnipeg, Canada. The city has very high sexual harassment rates, especially with indigenous women and we involved with indigenous organizations to understand the scope of the problem and to set new public transportation initiatives. In Quito, Equador, we were partners of the municipal observatory of violence, which includes violence against women, too. They have a municipal budget allocation to the program, which shows great ownership and sustainability.

What is UN Women biggest challenge on eliminating violence against women?

One of them is accountability of perpetrators. It requires involvement of other actors and all of the pillars I mentioned before. If no legislation is involved, for example, the violence will continue as the perpetrators will think there is no penalty or consequence. We also need to address stereotypes, men dominance, men privilege and other social norms. Another big challenge is to reach those there are left behind, women who are exposed for their condition as women with disabilities, from ethnic minorities, lesbians, bisexuals, or women who are very young or older who experiment different types of violence. The last challenge I will mention is monitoring impact. We expect something to be achieved in 3 or 4 years, some change of social norms and attitude. I think we need to find the impact the work we are doing in a more realistic way.

Orange the world campaign. Photo: UN Women

Can we be hopeful that one day we will eliminate gender violence?

I am hopeful and I have observed some recent signs that gave me even more hope. One of them is the #metoo campaign. It shows the power of women’s voices and how to reach a momentum as the topic is not being hidden anymore. The campaign calls for accountability of perpetrators. And they are actually being called. It also shows that women are exposed not only related to domestic violence and women mutilation, but also to sexual and verbal harassment, rape and many other aspects. The other sign of hope is agenda 2030. The SDG set one specific goal for women, but there are also other hidden goals in the agenda. For instance, SDG goals dedicated to achieving inclusive and sustainable cities. It recognizes the centrality of equality, and how relevant it is for the international community.

What is the role of social media in UN Women campaigns?

The Internet and social media have a strong power to shape the ways we think. They are enablers of women empowerment. Social media gives voice to women and features stories of positive empowerment. It’s a very powerful tool for shaping stereotypes and the way we think and act, and a way to condemn discrimination. It creates a sense of community.

What does the color orange mean on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women?

From the 25th of November, we are ‘oranging’ the world for 16 days as part of the campaign. The color orange is a symbol of bright and optimistic future. The idea is to make social media to initiate a discussion about this future we want to have.

Barcelona is hosting its 8th annual Corporate Social Responsibility Week, an event which connects the public sector to companies and non-profit organizations to discuss the recent developments in CSR. Horyou team has visited the venue and reports on some success stories.

8th CSR Week Barcelona took place from 14th to 18th November

What can a food bank do about global warming? Why should a healthcare and beauty products industry career coach unemployed women? Those are merely signs that CSR is pushing companies to go beyond their backyard. We all find profit in a better world.

The 8th edition of the annual CSR Week in Barcelona was an indication that many companies are trying to run the extra mile through their environmental and social actions. On a panel titled «Conferencias Soc-Eco-Amb», held on Tuesday, four organizations from very diverse industries showcased their actions.

Miguel Ángel Trabado, Henkel Beauty and Healthcare regional head of Professional Partnership Services (PPS), shared the «Fundación Quiero Trabajo» experience inaugurated this year. The project provides hairdressing, clothing, styling and professional coaching to unemployed women, helping them to recover from a job loss and restore their self-confidence. So far, 53 women have received assessment and advice, and 71% have found a new job. «It’s important to notice that most of the work is done by volunteers, and the great majority are women as well», he said. It is a global project that has produced remarkable results in Spain, with a high rate of successful job placements.

Speaking for Metro de Madrid on its recently launched CSR Policy, in line with the 11th and 13th UN Sustainable Development Goals on Sustainable Cities and Climate Action respectively, Monica Mariscal insisted on the company’s commitment to invest in innovation and technology in order to deliver the best user travel experience. Metro de Madrid is thus reusing 80% of its consumed water and, in 2017, it will reduce by 25% its energy consumption. Insisting on the responsibility to cater for the vast diversity of its users, she disclosed that «From a social perspective, the company has a commitment to diversity, and is building accessible stations and training both employees and people with disability to better use the metro». The goal is to have 73% of all stations accessible to people with disability by 2030.

Ana Gonzales talks about the CSR and Environment projects in Caprabo

As for the national supermarket chain Caprabo and its microdonations program, it is striving to reduce food waste, as well as to support people in need. Hence, the company donate small quantities of its unsold products – a pack of eggs in which just one is broken, for instance -, to non-profit organizations or food banks. This sounds simple but it requires some logistics in relation to food preservation and employee training to send out only items that are safe for consumption. According to Ana Gonzales, in charge of CSR and Environment for Caprabo, «The program is a success as it helps to feed 788 families per year. It also reduces food waste by more than 2,000 tons».

Caprabo micro donations go to organizations like Banc dels Aliments de Barcelona, a food bank that provides 18,000 tons of food to 137,000 people in Catalonia. In addition to putting meals on needy families tables, the organization has recently signed an agreement with the public sector by which it is working on reducing CO2 emissions. According to Joan Bosch, Economic Resources Coordinator, it is an extra challenge they are happy to take. «We have changed all our lamps to LED and are looking forward to reducing our emissions by more than 2,300 tons of CO2 in 2017», he stated. It is all done thanks to volunteering work and donations, and we aim higher each year. «Poverty is more intense and chronic than ever. We cover only 27% of families in need, and we expect to improve this number and the quality of what people are eating», he added. It will be done, of course, with lower emissions and the tireless commitment to building a better society.

The 5th Sustainable Development Goal concerns nearly half of global population – girls and women are still far from having the same opportunities and privileges as men

Photo: UNDP

Internet and social media are full of hashtags concerning women’s challenges in our society. The most recent one was #metoo, in which women shared their personal stories about harassment. The idea was to prove a grim reality – believe me if you are a man, almost every female on the planet has a sad story to tell about it. If you are a woman, you already know how it feels.

From corporations in the developed world to slums in the poorest countries, we share the same vulnerability. Since we’re born, our gender defines our challenges – we are going to face more difficulties to access education; if we get into the job market, our salaries will be lower; we are more exposed to violence and forced marriages; we have poorer access to health services. Women empowerment is urgent, and we, regardless of gender, should work together to promote it.

We need more representation: according to the UNDP, in 46 countries, women hold 30% or more in national parliament seats. Globally, women’s participation in single or lower houses of national parliaments reached 23.4 percent in 2017, just 10 percentage points higher than in 2000. It’s not enough.

We need more education: in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school.

We need equal opportunities: in the corporate world, women are underrepresented in managerial positions. In the majority of the 67 countries with data from 2009 to 2015, fewer than a third of senior- and middle-management positions were held by women.

We need liberty: only half of women in reproductive age make their own decisions about consensual sexual relations and use of contraceptives and health services.

We deserve respect: A fifth of women of reproductive age have suffered physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey, made in 2016.

Association El Khir promotes cooking workshops for women in Morocco

The SDG 5 defends the end of all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. In 2014, the UN Women launched the campaign He for She, inviting men to join the fight for equal opportunities – since then, the discussion has improved and many debate spaces were opened in media, companies, governments and civil society. Many organizations have been working towards the same goal. The Horyou community has great examples of NGOs and projects that support women and create an empowering environment for them to overcome difficulties and thrive personally and professionally.

One of the active members of our platform is Association Féminine de Bienfaisance El-Khir, based in Morocco, which promotes better life condition for women in the country, supporting their independence by providing them with legal assistance and career opportunities through education.

One of the activities of Fundação Laço Rosa during Pink October

In Brazil, Fundação Laço Rosa, yet another active nonprofit organization in our platform, empowers women with breast cancer, by helping them with self-image issues and to create bonds to overcome the disease.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote women empowerment in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

Written by Vivian Soares

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