This year on Wednesday, March 8, communities the world over celebrate International Women’s Day to honor the achievements of women in social, economic, cultural, and political realms. Furthermore, this day serves as a call to action for the advancement of gender equality. World Renew serves this vision by working to empower women from all backgrounds and walks of life.
One such woman was Aunty Yim Tum, a shy and quiet woman in her early forties. She lived with her husband and four school-aged children in the Kandal village of rural Cambodia. Yim Tum said very little. She didn’t have much education, and she believed that, as a woman, her most important work was to stay in her house and look after her children. She never considered becoming a leader of her community, and she could not have imagined how drastically her life would change in just a few years.
Last year, the campaign of International Women’s Day was focused on gender parity. This year, the declared theme is “Be Bold for Change.” Its goal is to highlight the power every person has to promote change within their own spheres of influence. Men and women can join forces to help empower women to the advantage of everyone.
World Renew works to empower women and girls, unlocking their potential and giving them autonomy and self-assurance.
There is not one organization or group that is solely responsible for International Women’s Day, but instead a whole network of supporters that observe and celebrate this day in different ways. Originating in North American and European labor movements in the early twentieth century, International Women’s Day is now an official holiday in over twenty countries, including Cambodia.
In Cambodia, less than ten percent of women hold roles as leaders at the national or community level. The Royal Government of Cambodia is working to promote and increase women’s leadership at national and community levels by creating policies and collaborating with other development partners and NGOs, such as World Renew.
Phal Dombaung Church, one of World Renew’s partners, started working in Yim Tum’s village in 2008 and motivated women to become leaders in their community. Yim Tum was trained by PDC in areas such as leadership, agriculture, savings groups, domestic violence, good governance, and other courses that provided her with skills to be a good community leader.
Yim Tum flourished with this training and encouragement. She was selected to be a core group member, and then was elected to be a member of the Community Based Organization where she joined six male members.
Yim Tum became a helpful and motivated leader in her village. She created savings groups. She helped monitor a seed project. She helped manage meetings, workshops, and forums. She grew vegetables and raised pigs and chickens. She helped solve problems within her community. Now, Yim Tum is a skilled advisor serving the people around her.
“Let us devote solid funding, courageous advocacy and unbending political will to achieving gender equality around the world. There is no greater investment in our common future.” –UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon—International Women’s Day 2016
World Renew recognizes the importance of women stepping into leadership roles and challenging traditions of exclusive male authority. Communities cannot be expected to thrive if half of their population is barred from developing and contributing their skills.
World Renew works to empower women and girls, unlocking their potential and giving them autonomy and self-assurance. Yim Tum’s story shows how leadership training can drastically change the lives of individual women and transform their surrounding communities.
This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the ways that women like Yim Tum are breaking barriers and working for the betterment of everyone in their societies. We also recognize that there is much work to do to achieve gender justice worldwide. We pray for the liberation and participation of women everywhere.
To learn more about World Renew’s gender equality work in nations around the world, visit our Gender Justice webpage.
You can empower women like Yim Tum and encourage gender equality in Cambodian communities. Donate now. #BeBoldForChange