Press release: A big hand for equality

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Gender equality is central to meeting the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people – men and women alike – concludes a new ACT Alliance report launched to mark International Women’s Day on
March 8.

“Clapping with Both Hands: 15 Studies of Good Practice in Promoting Gender Equality” celebrates innovative ACT programmes championed by brave women and men in 13 countries – from Guatemala to Indonesia, Mozambique to Nepal – that have enhanced the voice of women in workplaces, government and society at large.

“Gender equality and women’s empowerment are at the heart of ACT Alliance’s vision for a better and more just world,” said general secretary John Nduna. “While there has been progress on gender equality in some countries, women in many parts of the world suffer from violence, discrimination and under-representation in decision-making processes.

He said that when a humanitarian crisis occurred, gender inequalities were thrown into relief even more acutely.

The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a case in point. An estimated 1000 women a day are raped in the DRC, earning it the epithet of “rape capital of the world.”  Soldiers are some of the main perpetrators of the crime, instilling fear and mistrust in communities across the country.

The case study “Loving your enemies: working with soldiers to reform the army” describes how ACT member Christian Aid and the Central African Baptist Community trained the army, judicial system and communities on civilian rights and on ending sexual violence in order to put an end to impunity.

“I feel proud of myself for speaking out about what he did to me, and I feel much more at ease, to know he is being punished,” said one woman who was supported by ACT to press charges against her rapist.

By training soldiers, police officers, courts and community leaders, providing support to rape survivors and hosting symbolic reconciliation events, the innovative programme has started to build new, more accountable, relationships between soldiers and civilians. The result has been a dramatic decrease in the sexual harassment of women by soldiers.

Clapping with Both Hands highlights 14 other projects describing a range of programmes from peace-building to women’s political participation, sexual health campaigns to female-run micro-enterprises. In Senegal, young women who are taught safe sex and how to form healthy relationships are becoming mentors to girls in their neighbourhoods.

In Mali, campaigns to get more women on the election trail have resulted in the number of women candidates jumping by 42% in some regions. The report demonstrates how all aspects of life and all members of the community must have the will to change in order for real transformation to occur.

ACT hopes that the case studies will inspire development practitioners around the world and spark new energy for gender equality in different contexts. The report’s title, Clapping with both hands, signifies the need for women and men to work together on strategies promoting gender equality and gender justice: that’s when the applause can really begin.

About ACT Alliance

ACT Alliance is a global network of more than 125 member organisations working in long-term development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy. Its members work in 140 countries and employ around 30,000 staff and volunteers. Alliance members strive for positive and sustainable change in the lives of people affected by poverty and injustice.

Read the full gender equality report here:

For more information, please contact:
Jan Disselkoen
ph: +1 905-336-2920 ext 284

High resolution photos available from:
Sandra Cox
Communications Officer
ACT Alliance
ph: +41 (0)79 681 1868