Given that JGI’s founder, Dr. Jane Goodall, is a pioneering woman in her field and an inspirational role model to girls all around the world, it’s a no-brainer to include the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women in our mission and programming. Our efforts fall perfectly in line with Goal 5 of the UN SDGs, to achieve gender equality while empowering all women and girls.
JGI not only promotes gender equality in its own workplace, but encourages the community-centered programs that we support to strive for gender equality in their management. For example, in the 52 Tanzanian villages participating in TACARE, the land use planning councils have bylines requiring gender equality. This has helped provide female villagers with a say in their community’s short and long term goals and management of natural resources. Our Roots & Shoots groups around the world also promote gender equality by providing young women with leadership training. Roots & Shoots club leaders also receive training on gender, the environment and economic development.
One of the subgoals of Goal 5, to give women equal rights to economic resources, recognizes, like JGI does, the positive economic impact of women on communities as a whole. JGI supports women in the workplace and local economy by educating young women, in order to provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a sustainable manner, and by providing micro-financing to female entrepreneurs.
Another subgoal focuses on ensuring that all women receive equal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and reproductive rights. JGI’s health programs to just that, by providing clinics and training healthcare workers in central African communities in all aspects of health, including reproductive and sexual health. Women who learn about family planning often choose to keep their family size small, which not only improves their economic livelihoods of those families, but promotes conservation by reducing pressure on natural resources. Through health care professionals and radio broadcasts, we spread knowledge on family planning to over 70,000 people in 2014 alone.
Family planning education has also been a cornerstone of our peer education programs, where we train young women in central Africa about family planning, sexual and reproductive health and menstruation so that they can then inform their schoolmates and communities about these important topics. The peer education program also provides hygiene kits to young women, helping keep them in school and improving their economic opportunities. This program, combined with the scholarships we provide young women, as described in our Goal 4 post, has had a major impact on improving the retention rates of female students.