Come with me as I take you to meet women of South Asia Access (SAA) targeted villages.
Women all over the world have similar struggles, handled in different ways. Women are the hardest working people – often taking care of the home, a husband, children, and working. They strike a beautiful harmony of balance, playing multiple roles and making it look so easy.
I met a lot of women in the villages that South Asia Access works in, and I had one question to ask everybody: When does your day start and what do you do all day?
Every woman had similar answers but different expressions: some giggled and smiled, while some had a serious and thoughtful look. “Our day starts at 4:00 in the morning…we start with making breakfast. Then we clean, wash, send the children to school, cook lunch, send lunch to the people working in the fields…or take that lunch to the people working in fields…or work in the fields with the rest of the family. Then came the care for the cattle, chickens, and other animals, and soon it’s evening and it’s time to cook again.”
Then my next question is: “When do you spend time for yourselves or with your children?” There were no answers–only giggles and a weird look at me.
This made me think about women’s empowerment. We see women in big cities on par with men in all spheres. We see them independent, confident, having an identity, and proving their fullest potentials. But that is one side of the coin; the flip side of the coin South Asia Access came across in the villages is that women–especially the girls, the youth, and the young mothers–are deprived of acceptance, deprived of love, and not considered in the decision-making, or even given a listening ear to their opinions, their dreams, their desires. Women still feel unaccepted, un-respected, unsafe and snubbed. Women are still victimized by a vicious cycle of abuse, fear and exploitation, and they still suffer forced child marriages.
South Asia Access focus on empowering women with disabilities or HIV/AIDS is just one small aspect of making every girl and woman we work with feel safe and valued. We want them to experience the liberty and freedom intended by God for every one of them.
It is believed that if women are strong, the children are strong, their families are strong, the communities are stronger – basically, everything around them gets better and stronger.
To see stronger communities, South Asia Access focuses on building awareness among young girls and women with disabilities, equipping them with skills through training, education, counseling, medical interventions, and small business loans. We establish sustainable livelihood groups among women where they are trained on self-care, childcare, income generation, women’s rights, savings techniques, and much more.
With South Asia Access Inclusive Community Transformation (ICT) initiative working in 43 villages for the last two years, we have seen women who were never allowed to come out of their homes, living in the lies of the devil that they were good for nothing, believing in their Karma, living a defeated life in silence. This was even more among women with disabilities.
South Asia Access’ initiative has helped them to recognise their potential. They see their training opening a new world of opportunities to pursue their dreams and leading to social and economic development. Health care programs help women take strong steps to protect their children and themselves from infections and diseases. Sustainable livelihood groups (SLGs) give them a platform to voice their problems and stand up for their rights, inspiring other women as well.
Along with socio-economic initiatives, the South Asia Access team makes every effort to introduce Christ in every visit. Every opportunity is taken to pray, to share a parable, to replace the lies with the truth that sets them free. When women are happy — there is happiness all around!
“I feel women are empowered when the empowered empower.”