There are 1.1 billion girls in the world, and every one of them deserves equal opportunities for a better future. Sadly, around the world most girls face disadvantage and discrimination on a daily basis. On October 11, International Day of the Girl, we celebrate the potential of every young woman to be a powerful voice in her community and build a brighter future for generations to come.
Women and girls are disproportionately impacted when basic human needs are not met, including access to safe and decent housing.
For instance, in developing communities many families sadly cannot afford a toilet in their home. This means girls must use communal toilets, or practice open defection. Many women and girls we have worked with have reported feeling unsafe and uncomfortable doing this, and in some cases must walk alone at night to use a toilet.
Similarly, lack of access to water means girls often are delegated the task of walking long distances, sometimes multiple times a day to fetch water. This reduces their ability to attend school and study, depriving them of the opportunity of an education.
By offering access to adequate housing with access to water and sanitation, Habitat for Humanity is giving women and girls across the globe a greater ability to work, feed their families, and allow their daughters to get an education.
Having a safe and decent home is life-changing for families in need, but has a particular benefits for girls and women. A home is a sanctuary, and provides comfort, security and a place for girls to learn, thrive and grow. It also provides a place for parents to look after their children, and acts as a base to start a home business so they can support their families.
Loem and Van are young parents of a four-year-old girl, Bicheka. Bicheka’s parents used to live in a rented storeroom in a slum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. They spent up to half of their monthly income of USD 200 to 300 on rent. As slums are informal and not recognised by the government, the family lived with the threat of forced eviction on a daily basis. This, combined with expensive rent meant the family were constantly moving.
“Before when we were renting, my daughter’s studies fell behind because we were moving a lot,” said Loem. However, with the help of Habitat for Humanity, Loem has been able to give Bicheka a solid foundation for her future.
“Now that we have our own place, Bicheka is doing well in school,” said Loem. “Having this house provides more consistency and structure for our family. The house is small, but it is very big to me because it is filled with warmth and love.
In their new neighbourhood, Loem has been able to start a small business repairing and selling used electrical goods, while Van stays home to take care of Bicheka.
“My daughter is wonderful, smart and talkative. Although she is only small, if you ask her for help, she’ll help you. My hope is to see her have a bright future. If she has a great future and is happy, I too will be happy,” said Loem.
At Habitat for Humanity we believe shelter empowers families and offers a solid foundation for girls to feel safe, comfortable and build a brighter future for themselves. To help more families access safe and decent shelter, and provide a strong base to raise their girls, make a donation today.