International Day of the Girl,
On Friday, October 11th, we celebrate the International Day of the Girl. On this holiday, we remember that women and girls face extreme hardships all across the world, from social and cultural stigmas that deny opportunities for education and social mobility, to violent and dehumanizing forms of abuse and exploitation. These are the realities of daily life for women and girls around the world, and they exist alongside all of the tremendously positive things that women contribute to our world: ideas, innovations, inspiration. The Day of the Girl is therefore a time for us to share the stories of women and girls and learn about how we can continue to empower the women in our global community to create a better future for all of us.
Did you know… in Cambodia, due to lack of social service infrastructure, girls and boys in rural and urban communities are highly vulnerable to abuse, trafficking and exploitation.
So how can we plan for a better issue? One way is the Doorsteps Initiative. The Chab Dai Coalition is proud to collaborate with local partners here in Cambodia on the Doorsteps Initiative, a project that positions Khmer Christian organizations to help individuals and families make the most of rising opportunities and face the challenges in their communities, such as human trafficking. This project is grounded in our training here in Cambodia; it teaches organizations how to evaluate the needs of their communities and their effectiveness in responding to these problems, and then we provide training in project design and collective implementation in the communities that they serve. We do not just train individual actors or isolated organizations. Instead, we connect local groups to develop unified standards based on Khmer values. These learning tools are important for social justice organizations to use now, and they are a crucial part of the future collaborations that we help to foster. We believe that by sharing knowledge and empowering local actors, we can ensure that social actions go beyond good intentions.
In Prek Russey Village, inside the Banteay Meanchey Province, an organization called the Freedom Stone Project is working against human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable children whose educations are interrupted by poverty. When children in this community turn 14 years old, they are expected to contribute to the family income; thus, children in grade 9 are at the greatest risks for dropping out of school. With the help of our Quality Improvement System (QIS) program, members of the Freedom Stone Project translated this research into community action. They established a training center to teach 13 girls and boys vocational skills like sewing and carpentry, and they used the QIS program to build a network of local officials and donors to support the center. These crafts teach students to take pride in their work, and they provide an immediate source of income for students’ families, as well as a sustainable way to continue their education. Likewise, the QIS program trains community leaders to design, execute, and learn from short-term projects as they carry out their visions of long-term, sustainable change. By providing at-risk students with real-world, marketable skills, the Freedom Stone Project helped vulnerable children to stay in school while still providing for their families and respecting their community obligations. This is exactly the type of work that we believe in – it responds to local needs, implements collective action, and empowers women and men to make long-term, sustainable changes in their communities.
As we celebrate the International Day of Girl Children, we at the Chab Dai Coalition are honored to work with local organizations and to share our commitments with a global community. The challenges that face our world are real, many, and at times overwhelming. But by working together for a greater good, we can effect change in all the ways that really matter.
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