I remember growing up in Pakistan, a patriarchal nation where every day is celebrated as men's day! Women are merely burdens or helpers to males, whose status is mostly determined by women's behavior.
When I went to Australia in 2008, I expected things to be different, but to my dismay, gender inequality in the form of limited rights and bias towards women persisted there as well. In Australia, for example, women earn 17% less per year than men.
But wait, there's more: when I went to the United States in 2016, I discovered that gender disparity is even more pronounced than in any other country. Women in the United States receive 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, which is 18 percent less compensation, and considerably less for women of color.
Aside from income disparities, American women pay a high price for their so-called freedom. Men govern the socioeconomic structure to an even larger extent, with fewer women's rights and power division.
According to my research across three continents, women account for 49.58 percent of the world's most oppressed, deceived, and abused people.
According to the United Nations, women spend 7 times more time on domestic chores and unpaid care than males, limiting their ability to participate fully in the labor market.
When I first joined Helping Hand Relief and Development in 2019, my goal was to empower the downtrodden through education and awareness of their rights. Alhamdulillah, Helping Hand USA has a framework and mission to help women discover their worth and pursue their goals through their most well-known platform, the Skills Development and Livelihood Program. This initiative, which is now operational in ten countries, helps the underprivileged, both men and women, to become financially independent via proficiency and entrepreneurship.
The structure of this program is based upon these 2 verses from the Quran:
“There is no god but He: That is the witness of Allah, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise” [Quran, 3:18].
“And those who strive in Our (cause), – We will certainly guide them to our Paths: For verily Allah is with those who do right” [Quran, 29:69].
In these verses, we discern that knowledge is Tawheed (faith), and gaining knowledge is an active part of faith. Therefore, we must obtain knowledge and strive harder to become a better Muslim, and the blessings come from Allah SWT alone.
With this in mind, Helping Hand USA is working to not only empower women and eliminate poverty through enterprise and skills development, but also to enhance their character through a series of moral, religious, and ethical learning sessions.
Our Skills Development and Livelihood Program teaches women how to rewrite their future via interpersonal skills, education, and training, breaking down barriers and resulting in greater socio-economic progress.
Helping Hand USA has already empowered over 3000 women and families by breaking the cycle of poverty in 2020. These ladies are now providing for their family by working and/or running modest businesses.
Imagine a future where half of the world's most neglected population is given an equal chance to work, earn, and live honorably: a world where there is no discrimination, and a world in which a manager acknowledges and pays all of his employees equally, regardless of gender. Intellects are game changers in a world where women are recognized as scholars. Everyone, male or female, must contribute their fair share in order for us to have a better future, and this is only possible if we designate and celebrate International Women's Day every day!
Join Helping Hand USA and #breakthebias with us!
Sobia Naqi, Deputy Regional Manager HHRD Southeast, is the mother to two lovely girls: Minhal and Olivia. She graduated from Karachi University with a master's degree in economics. While counting her blessings, she is working hard to set an example, make memories with her family and bring lasting change to this beautiful planet!