Australian Volunteers International

June 20, 2019

The future is female

Gender inequality is one of the world’s oldest, most pervasive abuse of human rights. For women who live in endemic poverty, the struggle is radically disproportionate to those faced by men.

In Asia and the Pacific, women represent two thirds of the poor [1]. For them, hardship and discrimination are the norm, not the exception. Devastatingly, they are often left vulnerable to exploitation and violence that limit their life choices – even put their lives at risk.

As a father of two thoughtful, intelligent daughters who have much to contribute to their community and the world, I find this deeply distressing. For me, gender equality means equal rights and opportunities. No excuses.

Economic insecurity forms part of a cycle of disadvantage for women, often caused by discrimination in employment and education. Poverty magnifies this disadvantage, leading to poor health outcomes and limited decision-making power.

Research shows unequivocally that women’s economic empowerment is the most effective driver of gender equality and eradicating poverty and exploitation.

We know when women are financially more independent they can send their kids (especially girls) to school, lift up their families and communities, have a voice and control their own destiny.

This is where you come in. You have the power to make a difference.

Today, in Myanmar, only 51 per cent of women participate in the workforce, compared to 80 per cent of men. In many cases, they face difficulties accessing loans to start their business because any family assets are owned by men.

Despite small and medium businesses making up 90 per cent of all businesses in the country, only one in four of these are female-owned.

That’s why we started JoZaSo, a sustainable tourism hub in partnership with Intrepid Travel, the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute and the country’s third largest bank.

With seed funding from the Australian Government, we are helping women start their own small businesses in Myanmar’s growing tourism industry.

Because tourism can break the cycle of poverty and powerlessness.

Through JoZaSo, which means ‘Come, let’s try together’, women can access critical loans, build a credit history and receive the ongoing business training and advice they need to grow.

So far, we’ve launched six businesses, but there’s a growing list of others waiting for their chance too.

To support them, we need to raise $50,000.

All donations made before 30 June 2019 can be included as a deduction in your 2018/19 tax return.

Every contribution, no matter how large or small, counts. Thank you in advance for joining us in this crucial movement.