Every year, the world commemorates the International Women’s Day (March 8) to recognise the achievements and contribution of women towards creating a better world. Today, the world is faced with a multiplicity of crises, and this only calls for inclusive approaches towards addressing these crises, including child poverty.
Recognising the vital role they play in securing children’s wellbeing and dignity, we work with women leaders from diverse contexts towards creating a world free of child poverty. These women lead and promote innovative solutions aimed at addressing the root causes of child poverty.
In celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day, we cast a spotlight on three young women at the forefront of such innovative solutions to address child poverty.
Shazmin Rafeeq, I CAN Malaysia
Shazmin’s leadership: A community centre to serve children, particularly Rohingya children living as refugees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
I CAN Malaysia (founded by Shazmin) established a community learning center – the Darul eslah Academy – that provides basic nutrition, non-formal and social skills education to the children living as refugees, as well as volunteer opportunities for university students and other members of the community. Further, I CAN Malaysia, collaborates with several Madrassas to provide psycho-social support to the children, in addition to religious education and nurturing spirituality and positive values. Shazmin has been instrumental in leading these processes and working with other young people to act.
“We believe in the philosophy “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” The focus of ICAN Malaysia is not only to help people living in or affected by poverty with their basic needs; but also to make them self-reliant by providing required training and guidance accordingly. Instead of considering poor people as burden or liability for the society, with our help, training, assistance and guidance each individual can start contributing to the society in every aspect.”
Zvonimira Jakić, GNRC (Global Network of Religions for Children) Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zvonimira’s leadership: Advocacy and social entrepreneurship.
Zvonimira Jakić is the youth coordinator for the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a youth advisor of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, among other key leadership roles. Zvonmira is also a champion of promoting children’s education, forming a global program for tutoring for children in vulenrable circumstances. A receipient of the 2019 SEEBA “Best Young Entrepreneur” Award for the startup “Green Solutions” for innovation in agriculture digitalization, Zvonmira’s work epitomizes this year’s International Women’s Day theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.”
“Changemaker (is) the word which explains me the best … I am mentoring several university and high school students around the globe (focusing) on Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I teach and mentor them to become future leaders and changemakers of the world. My motto for change and work is: “INSPIRE.ACT.CHANGE!” … My biggest success is when I see that one of my students made a positive CHANGE in the globe.”
*Zvonmira’s quote is from an interview with the European Democracy Youth Network (EYDN). Read Zvonmira’s full interview ‘Everyday Heros’ responses by the EYDN, here
Haoua Dicko, REJADH (Réseau des Enfants et Jeunes Africains pour les Droits Humains), Mali
Haoua’s leadership: Community mobilisation and youth-led advocacy for human rights and addressing gender-based violence (GBV)
Haoua has been part of the leadership of the REJADH network, spearheading grassroots advocacy work in Mali. REJADH (African Children and Youth Network for Human Rights/Réseau des Enfants et Jeunes Africains pour les Droits Humains) was established as a platform for advocacy by and for young people from 5 countries (Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, South Sudan and Somalia) often affected by conflict, poverty, and Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Through this program, we sought to empower young leaders (youth, youth influencers, and young adults) with the necessary skills to help them reduce, prevent, and end gender-based violence and its negative effects on young people and the community at large. Since inception, REJADH has reached more than 5,000 children and youth through direct advocacy efforts. Similarly, its online reach has been overwhelming through the REJADH social media spaces.
“As a member of REJADH since its creation in October 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I can say that REJADH has had a very positive impact in my life, starting with this feeling of being useful in my community. I am now able to serve as a positive example and role model for other young Africans, and more particularly for my Malian brothers and sisters. I am committed to living with a lot of devotion and contribute more to the development of my continent. I believe this piece of wisdom, “the man who fights for others is better than the one who fights for himself”. The fight continues until it succeeds.
Happy International Women’s Day!