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Why tackling discrimination against women can help end poverty for everyone.
Every day, in every country, women's efforts to leave poverty behind are blocked by violence, abuse and discrimination. Research from the World Bank has shown that if you're a woman, you're more likely to work long hours, earn less and spend more time doing unpaid work. You're also far more likely to suffer sexual or physical violence - as one in three women do.
For all of these reasons and more, you're more likely to be poor if you're a woman. And that's not the only reason that support for women lies at the heart of everything Oxfam does. As well as simply being the right thing to do, achieving greater equality is vital if we are to end poverty for everyone.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has found that investing in women boosts economic development and helps to create jobs. And in places where more women are in leadership roles, inequality is usually reduced and more is spent on vital public services like healthcare. In both of those scenarios, everyone benefits. The true potential of women is unlocked - and whole communities move forward together.
In a nutshell, that's why achieving equality isn't only about fairness. It's about ending poverty.
Let's look at some of the many ways we're working to help unlock the potential of more than one million women and girls worldwide. And we meet just a few of the amazing people we work with who, just like us, refuse to live with inequality.
Zambia has a growing economy but its challenge is to make sure that the benefits of that growth reach most people and help reduce poverty.
Alex and Ethel live in Zambia, where almost 75% of people live below the poverty line. For most people here, life is tough - but it's even tougher for the country's women. Around half of women in Zambia have experienced physical or sexual violence. For devoted fathers like Alex, it's a worrying statistic.
But Alex is working with Oxfam to change the future for his daughter. Alex is part of Oxfam's I Care About Her project, which works with local communities to end violence against women and girls. The project focuses on challenging and changing traditional - but extremely damaging - attitudes and beliefs that put women at risk and keep them in poverty. For example, where Alex lives, it is widely believed that a man can earn respect by hitting a woman.
Alex says: "It is because of my love for Ethel that I am taking part in this project. I believe that when people see me looking after Ethel, they see me as a good example for the community. I bring my daughter to the discussions as well, I believe it is a good lesson for her."
Through the I Care About Her programme, Oxfam is helping boys and men like Alex to champion women in their communities - and challenge violence wherever they find it. More generally, we're working with women, their partners, traditional and faith leaders, and the media so that everyone can help women live without fear. The bottom line is that parents like Alex now have more hope for their children's future.
We're not just creating change in Zambia. Right now, we're working in 40 countries to make violence against women and girls illegal. It's vital work because, incredibly, one-in-three women suffer violence worldwide. We believe this is totally indefensible and has no place in a fair world. Thanks to our supporters, we're helping women to demand their rights and use their potential to end poverty for good.
Help women thrive, donate today
It's hard to believe now but, for more than 30 years, Tika rarely left her family home in Surkhet - imprisoned by the traditional values that limit many women living in Nepal's remote, rural areas. Kept in the dark about their rights, women and girls here have very little freedom.
Oxfam has been working with communities like Tika's to redress the balance, running classes to educate women about their rights in relation to issues like lack of freedom, domestic violence and alcohol abuse. For Tika, joining the Oxfam-run women's discussion group has enabled her to play an active role in her community for the first time.
Tika says: "When I first wanted to go, my husband wasn't keen and urged me not to. He told me that my primary job was to look after the home and that since I was illiterate I could do nothing useful there. Now, he feels proud of me - he teases me saying 'Netaji' (leader). He is happy to switch the responsibilities between us and do some of the household work that I used to do. He believes in empowering women. That change is due to the work of the group."
The Oxfam project in Surkhet has given women like Tika the confidence to fight for their rights, start earning money and inspire their daughters to do the same. Worldwide, we're working with women and girls living in poverty to build their confidence and take control of their lives. By donating to Oxfam, you can support incredible projects that help women work together to campaign for more freedom to use their own unlimited potential in the fight against poverty.
For Tika, the results are life-changing: "Now I walk with confidence. I feel that women can do any type of work, not just household work. My daughter is happy to see me being independent and taking decisions for the family. I am a totally different woman. Ten years from now, I expect my life to be even better. Nobody will hold me back!"
Have your say… and help Oxfam, and the millions of activists worldwide continue raising women's voices
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