International Women's Day is observed on 8th March every year, to celebrate the achievements of women; to inspire women to achieve, and to mobilise action for injustices against women. An upcoming rights conference is to be held in Bristol, to mark this event, and highlight the work of key campaigners and champions of women's global empowerment.
African Initiatives is a Bristol-based UK rights charity that delivers projects in Tanzania and Ghana, with the key objectives of improving the life chances of women, girls, disabled and marginalised people.
It's projects focus on rights such as education, health, and equal access to a country's resources, and aims to promote empowerment of people in these areas.
Raising awareness of, and promoting global education at home is an important strand of the international development work of the charity, and African Initiatives also runs a schools programme, and has strong links with local universities and educational institutions.
Central to its global education programme is the annual International Women's Rights Conference, to mark International Women's Day, which will take place on Saturday 1st March this year in central Bristol. The guest speaker is Maanda Ngoitiko, one of the partners of African Initiatives from Tanzania. Maanda is a Maasai woman, and founder and director of the Pastoral Women's Council, a woman-led charity working with women and girls in northern Tanzania.
The conference will also hear from inspirational speakers on acid violence, forced marriage, sex work, colonialism and same-sex relationships, and the experience of women working in hazardous Asian garment factories.
Interest by British people in contributing to international aid has remained strong in terms of charitable donations at times of disaster; but how strong is the commitment to doing more?
The British Government has recently announced that it will reverse its earlier decision, and now allow several hundred of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees to come to Britain. A recent YouGov Poll published on 23 January 2014 posed the question:
"Some European countries are agreeing to each admit a few hundred of the people in the Syrian refugee camps. Do you think the United Kingdom should or should not also agree to admit a few hundred refugees from Syria to settle here?"
The results showed that most British people are against the plans with only 39% saying that we should accept Syrian refugees. Of the remainder, 47% said we should not accept them, and 14% indicating they did not know.
Asked to comment on British public attitudes towards international development, chief executive of African Initiatives, José Sluijs-Doyle, feels there is support, and comments:
"Recent research has found that the UK public is less supportive when it comes to increasing the level of UK aid at a time of economic hardship; however global development is generally viewed as a positive. There is a great interest in understanding how and why development works, and how individuals in developing countries can participate in this process. This interest in global development is further reflected in the increasing number of participants who attend our annual Women's Rights Conference, as well as the high number of volunteers who support us in our work."
The conference will be opened by George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, and is open to anyone with an interest in hearing about achievements and campaigns in global women's rights and empowerment.
The Annual International Women's Right's Conference by African Initiatives is on Saturday 01 March 2014. Book a place here.