KIT Blog

Making a Better World For All.

March 8th is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, and take action to make the world a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive place. 

From its beginnings 150 years ago The Leprosy Mission has recognised and valued the contribution of women in all aspects of its work, and part of the understanding that to defeat leprosy requires the empowerment of all people. 

Today, one of the roles that builds on this history is that of Gender Officer. Amongst other things, this role helps ensure that projects are accessible to all people. It also raises issues concerning barriers to women with leprosy and disability. The Gender Officer helps elevate the potential of women and girls within diverse communities to find opportunities to contribute to the social and financial aspects of family and community life. 

Sakshi is the Gender Officer for The Leprosy Mission Nepal. We asked her questions focusing on women’s economic empowerment and the effect that has on them as individuals and as a community. 

God give us the wisdom and courage to build a world in which each person, created in your image, is free to use the gifts you have given them. May we recognise the strengths and the potential of women to bring change, economic growth, and prosperity to their communities. May your will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Amen. 

What motivates you to work in the area of gender?

I am driven by the recognition of the significant impact gender equality has on society. Witnessing the disparities in opportunities and outcomes between genders, particularly in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, inspired me to contribute to fostering a more equitable world.

 Why do you think investing in women’s economic empowerment is so important? How does this benefit society as a whole? 

Investing in women's economic empowerment is crucial for multiple reasons. When women have equal access to resources, education, and job opportunities, it not only contributes to economic growth but also plays a pivotal role in poverty reduction. It also enhances social development by improving overall well-being within communities. 

How does the IMPACT (Integrated Mobilisation of People for Active Community Transformation) project support women’s economic empowerment?

The IMPACT project focuses on several key aspects of women's economic empowerment. It includes skills training to enhance employability, facilitates access to financial resources such as credit and microfinance, and engages in advocacy efforts to promote policies that create equal opportunities for women in the workforce.

What changes have you seen in the women who are given opportunities to start their own businesses?

Women who are given opportunities to start their own businesses often undergo transformative experiences. They exhibit increased confidence as they navigate leadership roles and overcome challenges. Financial independence becomes a tangible outcome, contributing not only to their personal growth but also to the well-being of their families. 

(Here is an example. In KIT Issue 3, 2023 we met Mira. Mira had a lot of responsibility looking after a family of seven, including two with disabilities. She was very hesitant when we first met her and before joining a self-help group. Now she speaks in front of groups and has become the manager of the cooperative that evolved from the self-help group. This helped her grow income, access grants or gifts to help her son with disability and build up a network within her community. She is now a newly elected member of her ward, in reality a local politician!) 

What excites you when you see these women contributing and taking on roles they would never have considered in the past?

Witnessing women contribute and take on new roles is particularly exciting because it signifies a breaking of traditional gender stereotypes. These women become inspiring role models, challenging societal expectations, and contributing diverse perspectives to various fields. It fosters a positive cycle of innovation and creativity.

What more needs to be done to bring about a gender-equal world?

Achieving a gender-equal world requires ongoing efforts across multiple fronts. Educational equality, equal employment opportunities, legal reforms protecting women's rights, and a cultural shift challenging gender norms are all essential components of this journey. It's about creating a comprehensive framework that addresses systemic issues and promotes inclusivity in all aspects of life. 

Pray for Sakshi and other Gender Officers as they work to bring change through economic empowerment of women. Pray there will be a positive impact on communities as they grow and become more inclusive. 

Pray that more women will access the IMPACT project and be encouraged by the possibilities that arise to think creatively about their future. 

Pray for communities to be willing to see the importance of gender equality and to address the changes that need to be made to be a more inclusive place to live.

You can support the economic empowerment of women through the IMPACT project. The project supports women and men dealing with leprosy, disability, and poverty to develop sustainable livelihoods. 

You can make a donation towards the IMPACT project below. Your gift can have 5 times the impact — if you give now, your gift is combined with a powerful government grant!

Donate to the IMPACT project

The Leprosy Mission seeks to bring about transformation; breaking the chains of leprosy, empowering people to attain healing, dignity, and life in all its fullness.

We are targeting a Triple Zero Leprosy strategy — Zero Leprosy Transmission, Zero Leprosy Disability, and Zero Leprosy Discrimination. We are working hard with our international project partners, and international government organisations, to make leprosy transmission a thing of the past by 2035.

If you feel moved to make an impact today, click here and your gift will be graciously accepted and used where it is most needed.