Today is International Women’s Day and the theme this year, #ChooseToChallenge, really resonates with us.
84% of the carers that we support are women and girls and through the work we do with our partner organisations across India, Nepal and Bangladesh, we Choose to Challenge on a daily basis.
Whether that’s challenging the invisibility of women carers by drawing attention to what they do and the issues they face, challenging stereotypes of unpaid family carers and the people they care for or challenging the isolation of carers by connecting them to each other and creating support networks.
Work such as our three-year project in Koraput, one of India’s poorest districts, sees us working with 1,500 carers of people with disabilities and mental illness from marginalised tribal communities. By working with our partner NGOs, EKTA, SPREAD and WORD, we were able to reach carers in this area who otherwise would have had no recognition and support. Through our work, we not only helped carers to address their own health and emotional needs and to find ways to financially support their families, but also gave them the support and resources they needed to challenge the status quo for themselves and advocate for their own rights and needs, both locally and nationally.
Our project in Nepal in collaboration with LEADS Nepal and funded by UK Aid Direct, is a great example of how our carer support groups help to connect carers and reduce loneliness and isolation, by creating social networks and supporting emotional wellbeing. The results of our baseline survey conducted at the start of this project showed that 25% of carers were isolated and 77% were depressed or anxious. Through our work, we challenged the social isolation of carers by, among other things, creating 57 support groups, bringing together 870 carers for emotional support and local advocacy activities; establishing 10 Community Caring Centres to provide respite care; and reintegrating 285 child carers into school.
International Women’s Day this year shares a day with Commonwealth Day, an opportunity for individuals, communities and organisations to promote the Commonwealth’s shared values of peace, democracy and equality. The Commonwealth Foundation is such an important network for charities such as ours and funding from this foundation has helped support and grow our Carers Associations and State Level Carers Forums. These associations ensure that carers at village-level are accessing existing rights and opportunities, whilst also advocating for further recognition and entitlements. They are predominantly female led, so the juxtaposition of these two important days of recognition is a wholly appropriate one, from our standpoint.
So, on this International Women’s Day and Commonwealth Day, we raise our hand to say that we are in and we #ChooseToChallenge. Not only the staff and trustees at Carers Worldwide, but the staff of our partner organisations and the carers they support.
Are you in? You can support our work and help us make more of a difference by donating. Just £10 will set up a self-help group for carers to challenge social isolation and £5 a month can send a child carer back to school. Please help us and #ChooseToChallenge.