Meet the women you'll be helping
Binta was born in rural northern Sierra Leone. Her parents were so poor they could not afford to look after her, so her mother took her to live with a wealthier family in Freetown.
But instead of getting the care she needed, Binta was abused. The son of the family tried to rape her. Terrified and alone, she decided to run away.
It was during this time that Binta met her husband. They married in a traditional ceremony and not long afterwards she became pregnant. At last she thought she had found happiness.
But it was not to be. Shortly after she gave birth to her son, her husband left her. And not long after this, she discovered she was HIV positive. Her husband was the only man she had ever had a relationship with.
Binta and her son are now being supported by VSO partner, the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa, Sierra Leone (SWAASL), one of very few organisations in the country that focuses primarily on women and HIV & AIDS. Binta is receiving care, treatment and counselling, so that she can live positively with HIV, and is also learning new skills like tie-dye and bead design, so that she can earn enough money to support her son.
Only 38 percent of young women around the world have accurate, comprehensive knowledge of HIV & AIDS. If UN Women receive the funding and support it needs it will be able to ensure that women like Binta have access to education and healthcare so that they are better able to protect themselves against HIV. It is too late for Binta. But for millions of other girls out there, UN Women could be a lifesaver.
Like so many girls who live in the upper west region of Ghana, Crescentia was forced to drop out of school to support her family. She went to live with her auntie, helping to care for her children and sewing to bring in money. For four long years she missed out on school, until finally she persuaded her mother to let her return home and go to school.
Crisentia began to rebuild her life at home, attending school during the week and working at the weekends to buy school books, pencils and food for the family. In the summer holidays she did what hundreds of girls in northern Ghana do, and travelled south to work as a porter on building sites.
Crescentia stayed with her sister and her husband, helping them look after their new baby when she was not at work. One night, while her sister and her children were sleeping in the same room, her brother-in-law drugged and raped her.
Crescentia became pregnant.
Five years on and now in her twenties, Crescentia is a mother, and thanks to support from Nadowli Assembly Women’s Advocacy Group, a VSO partner organisaton, Crescentia is a pupil once again. She is currently doing her exams and dreams of becoming a nurse.
Armed with an education Crescentia has the opportunity to lift not only herself, but her baby, and ultimately her community too, out of poverty. UN Women will fight for more girls to finish their studies, paving a brighter way for themselves, and the future generation.
Sita is from a village in Jharkhand, India. Her family are very poor, and her parents struggled to provide for her and her siblings.
One day, when she was 12 years-old, a man from a nearby village approached her, promising her good money to come to Delhi for as a pot washer. Sita imagined she’d be able to earn lots of money to support her family, and to buy saris for herself and her mother. To a vulnerable girl, this man’s proposition sounded like a dream come true.
The reality was very different. Sita found herself not only cleaning and cooking for a man in Delhi but facing physical and sexual abuse from him too: he would remove his clothes and force Sita to rub him with oils and give him massages. At its worst, Sita’s time in Delhi saw her being forced to perform for men in a dancing club.
There are over 1,000 illegal agencies in Delhi that send scouts across Jharkhand to traffic young girls like Sita who are tempted to the city with false promises of a better life. Thankfully, Sita has been rescued, and is now living at a shelter run by Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), a VSO partner that supports victims of trafficking.
Like many girls rescued by BKS, Sita was disorientated and unable to tell the staff where her parents were, so she will remain at the centre for the foreseeable future, where she is receiving an education, medical care, counselling and perhaps most importantly, a chance to have fun with girls of her own age.
It is impossible to know how many women and children are trafficked every year, but it is estimated to be as many as 4 million. If UN Women is given the support it needs it will be able to help stop this. Ending the exploitation of vulnerable women and girls like Sita, for good.