At ClimateMama, we love to support campaigns and organizations doing “good” for people around the world, and to use our knowledge and experience working on Climate Change to help connect the dots. Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from around the world, bloggers with different interests and languages who will blog about one important global topic on the same day. This year that topic is Human Rights.
So today, on “Do Something Wednesday” here at ClimateMama we are thrilled to promote and support Education as a Human Right, the power of women and girls, and how and why – through education – we can empower and engage people to stand up for and create a livable future for us all!
We were recently introduced to Opportunity International, a wonderful organization that works every day to bring dignity and hope to people in the developing world. According to it’s website, Opportunity International’s vision is to create: “A world in which all people have the opportunity to provide for their families and build a fulfilling life. A belief in small-scale entrepreneurs to be big change agents in overcoming global poverty. To empower people to work their way out of chronic poverty, transforming their lives, their children’s futures and their communities.” Opportunity International does this by providing microfinance services, including lending, savings, insurance and transformational training, to people in need, building and working through sustainable, local microfinance institutions.
At ClimateMama, a big part of our work is to empower women and girls to be
“change agents” on climate change. In this regard, it is interesting to note that 84% of Opportunity International’s clients are women. While we also strongly advocate for men and boys to be agents of change and “solution drivers” on climate change as well, many studies, as well as Opportunity’s own direct experience working with women clients, support the prevailing view that, “women and girls create more developmental change for each dollar invested in them.” While microfinance is available to both men and women entrepreneurs equally at Opportunity International, the gains that women achieve are three times more likely to be invested in their children–providing a powerful generational multiplier that accelerates economic growth.”
We wanted to share this example of Opportunity International’s work in Uganda, working, in fact, with a gentleman, Evans Ssenabulya. Evans is helping educate young girls, so they can be prepared for their future and the future of their community as well. Evans and his wife Roy live in Uganda with their three daughters under the age of eight. According to Opportunity International: “Like every parent, Evans wanted his girls to get a good education. He also noticed how many children in the community, mostly girls, were taken out of school when their families became unable to cover expenses.”
In 2007, Evans started Ridgeway School for 100 students in a small wooden building on a rented plot of land. Now, just six years later, he owns the land and has expanded the school into a day and boarding program serving more than 900 students. Evans says Opportunity International helped take his dreams far beyond what even he thought was possible. Through three loans and a savings account, Evan also opened a retail store that sells school materials. And Evans has even bigger dreams. He plans to further expand Ridgeway School to increase enrollment to 5,000 and add computer technology and life skills to the curriculum to help students better prepare for the future.
Around the world, scientists continue to ring deafening warning bells about our precarious future and the real possibility of runaway climate change – in our lifetime. We in the developed world, the ones most responsible for our changing climate, are still the most resilient in adapting. Yet water shortages, less predictable rainy seasons, and droughts all combine to create volatile conditions that erupt quickly, leaving no safety net for the most vulnerable populations in many developing countries. East Africa, where Uganda is located, is a particularly vulnerable region. Scientists tell us that the probability of droughts and the loss of a predictable rainy season is the new “normal” rather then the exception in Eastern Africa, a direct result of our changing climate.
The long-term outlook for this part of Africa will remain difficult. More effort needs to go into supporting and helping to manage and adapt existing agriculture practices to deal with changing conditions, while at the same time new avenues and opportunities for these populations need to be defined, including shoring up basic human rights like education.
Clearly as well, we need to get to the root of the problem and that is a burden the whole world shares. How do we change our energy sources, use less energy, and transform our economies so that they operate on clean renewable energy that will help safe guard current and future generations, at the same time as we heal our planet? Taking this one step at time, Opportunity international is helping ensure basic human rights, like education for all, become the reality rather then the exception.
Be sure to check out other blogs from around our planet, that are all blogging on Human Rights as part of Blog Action Day.