Women have the power to liberate themselves, their families and others from oppression. Through their God-given gifts, they could transform lives.
But poverty, inequality, violence and injustice often denies women the opportunity to do so. For those who are also mothers, life is doubly difficult as they fight to protect and raise their children.
This Christmas, we’re highlighting the transformational change that women around the world, particularly mothers, can achieve if given the chance – even in the most desperate situations.
Conflict and drought in Afghanistan forced widow Bibi Aisha (pictured above) and her two children to flee their home. She managed to lead them to safety and find shelter through Christian Aid’s local partner RAADA who gave the family a tent.
Bibi Aisha is still vulnerable as the sole breadwinner in a society badly affected by inequality, discrimination and exploitation. But she is determined that her children will prosper:
I want a bright future for my children,’ she says, I want them to be educated.
Many women face discrimination in Bangladesh, especially those from ethnic minorities. This means they often cannot afford medical help in a crisis – like Amena. She planned to have her second baby at home but as she went into labour, she started bleeding profusely.
Ranjita was forced into manual scavenging work at just nine years old. She earned just a few rupees and a piece of stale bread in return for hours of degrading work cleaning human excrement by hand: ‘They treated us worse than animals.’ she recalled.
Manual scavenging is reserved for the lowest caste in India who are known as Dalit. Despite being outlawed, there are still around 1.2 million manual scavengers, of which 95% are women.
Now a mother to her own children, Ranjita was determined to build a better life for them. Through a community self-help group run by our partner ARUN, she learned about her rights and felt empowered to apply for a government compensation grant. This then helped her start a tailoring business.
Now Ranjita can provide for her family: ‘My children and I are happy now I am earning with dignity.’
Release mothers' God-given gifts
At Christmas, we remember one of the most powerful stories ever told: Mary’s journey to Bethlehem, to give birth to Jesus. Mary’s bravery, perseverance and devotion brought her family out of danger and enabled God’s hope, love and peace to enter the world.
Mothers like Biba Aisha, Amena and Ranjita have had the opportunity to use their God-given gifts too thanks to generous people like you. But many more women need your help today.
Women like Geeta, who also lives in India and is a single mother. Like Ranjita, she was forced into the same dirty work of manual scavenging. Unlike Ranjita, she is still doing it.
Geeta is determined to break the cycle of poverty and provide her daughter with an education and a different future: ‘I don’t want my daughter to do this. I hope she will have a chance to go to school,’ she said.
This Christmas, you could help create more life-changing opportunities for mothers just like Geeta.