Often in our societies it is the most vulnerable and marginalized populations who suffer the greatest due to limited access to information. This is particularly true for women. In many countries, one-half of the population may be limited in their full enjoyment of the right to information and the myriad benefits that it provides. Women frequently face the double burden of generating and caring for their families. While women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, they continue to form the largest block of the world’s 1.3 billion people living in poverty. Economic opportunities for women remain limited. Globally, only 50 percent of women of working age are in the labor force compared to 77 percent of men. One independent study has calculated that “women could increase their income globally by up to 76 percent if the employment participation gap between women and men were closed, resulting in a global value of USD 17 trillion.
Women are more susceptible to and affected by corruption, which flourishes with greater secrecy. However, with genuine access to information, women can take advantage of opportunities to transform their lives, families, and communities. There are a multitude of examples throughout the world in which women have accessed information to achieve economic gains or protect fundamental rights
As we celebrate the International Women’s Day, we need to ponder about these questions; Can women access information about educational policies and school budgets? Can women access information about scholarships and educational opportunities? Can women access information related to policies regarding land ownership? Can women access information related to rights of possessing or inheriting land? Can women access titles to property? Can women access information about government procedures related to starting a small business? Can women access policies and procedures for business licensing? Can women access the policies and procedures related to government-funded loans? Can women access information relevant to commercial/market interests such as: the number of similar businesses that exist, taxes, importation costs, etc.? Can women access information about pricing of goods? Can women access information about government-sponsored programs for seeds and fertilizers? Can women access information about water policies? Can women obtain information about advancing their rights; for example, labor rights and the right to live free from violence, health, and sexual and reproductive rights? Can women access information about appealing to an authority in case their rights are violated? Can women access information/data/statistics about how/when/where there have been rights violations?
In sum, access to information allows women to make more effective decisions; for example, with relation to property rights, education, and jobs, enables women to know and exercise their full range of rights, including the right to be free from violence,helps women to participate more fully in public life, is critical for holding government and service providers accountable and reducing corruption,bridges gender gaps and helps to shift power and provides opportunities for women’s increased economic empowerment.
AFIC will continue to design and implement interventions that deliberately support and empower women to participate and make decisions on issues that affect them in their societies.
We are Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.