On International Women’s Day, we join the global campaign to celebrate the achievements of women in the past and for the future – and explore how Islamic Relief is empowering women.

Our work both directly and indirectly impacts on women and their struggle for gender justice.

This week, Islamic Relief has joined the United Nations and European Parliament’s discussions on women. The Commission on the Status of Women meets this month, and is discussing progress made on goals for the equality, development, and peace of all women. On Thursday, the European Parliament met to discuss eliminating gender disparity in education and training, challenges to equal access to continuous and quality education, and education for women and girls.

Providing an education

Iman Sandra Pertek, Islamic Relief’s senior policy advisor for gender, said: “We recognise education not only as an opportunity but as an obligation for everyone. We currently run more than 40 education programmes in areas as varied as Bangladesh, Iraq, Tunisia, and Afghanistan and are working to narrow the gap between the number of girls and boys accessing education.

“Children all around the world are missing out on an education – a key to success and to fulfilment of human potential. These include refugees and children who have had to relocate because of disaster, but also children who had to go to work to support their families, who stay at home to look after younger siblings or unwell parents, and also those who do not have safe access to schools or drop out of classes because of harmful practices. People continue to learn throughout life as well, and missing an education in childhood does not mean they should be denied that formal or informal education as adults.

Equal value

“Islamic Relief believes in the equal value and importance of women, girls, men and boys to society, and the importance of equity in treatment of all people, regardless of their status. We therefore run projects to make sure girls and boys, women and men get the quality education and training they need to make a better life for themselves.”

The European inter-parliamentary committee meeting, Empowering Women and Girls through Education, brought together government representatives from a range of countries, as well as civil society, and several NGOs. The event emphasised the role of quality education in achieving gender equality through access to opportunities and expanding people’s life choices.
Islamic Relief’s work cuts across all sectors. We believe that women, girls, men and boys are affected differently in emergencies, have different needs, and face different barriers to accessing our programmes. We aim to ensure equitable access, participation and consultation in regard to our services. We have made a commitment to promoting justice, equity and the equal value and importance of both sexes as part of our work to eradicate poverty.

We are also committed to tackling gender-based violence, including harmful traditional practices, sexual violence and human trafficking.