H4O for Women's Empowerment

Malagasy families and households are managed and run by women. They are the pillars of the households and they bear the responsibility of daily (unpaid) activities. Yet, Malagasy women remain highly vulnerable to violence and discrimination and often lack the means to emancipate themselves due to time poverty, lack of economic independence and decision-making power.

Help for Optimism works with women and for women. As a matter of fact, H4O in Madagascar is 100% run by a trained team of local women.

The approach is based on sharing knowledge and expertise, ensuring access to resources and creating a gender-inclusive dialogue to train and shape women leaders. The interventions are designed to be gender-responsive infrastructures that reduce exposure to gender-based violence by improving privacy and menstrual hygiene. Moreover, H4O works to reverse gender-based dynamics by providing women with specific training and good wages to be empowered and independent.

This enables women to be safe, economically independent and to obtain a key role in decision-making processes within their communities.

Social enterprises

New jobs to reach economic independence

H4O social enterprises are exclusively led by local women. In fact, after being appropriately trained, girls and women own the expertise that enables them to handle the whole decision making process for the businesses management.

Thanks to H4O enterprises, women staff is able to secure good wages that enable them to be empowered and to reach economic independence.

In Madagascar, the local Board of Directors of H4O is exclusively made up of local women who manage strategic and operational tasks within the NGO as well as external and public relations.

Water

Water on premises to avoid time poverty

Time poverty is one of the main issues of women’s empowerment. Time poverty deprives women of the freedom of managing their time, to nurture their talent and to pursue their own interests or careers.

H4O programs and the provision of clean water access within the villages aims to ensure the round-trip for water collection <5mins. This is a key intervention to address time poverty for women and girls who are used to spend up to 1 hour per day to collect contaminated water far from their villages.

Sanitation

Household toilets for privacy safety and menstrual hygiene

Worldwide, the practice of Open-Defecation (OD) is the first cause for women to suffer from violence. In fact, this practice makes women vulnerable since it exposes them, especially at night, to the risk of going alone to some OD spots far from the house such as forest or the beach.

H4O sanitation programme addresses this particular issue by building Private Sanitation facilities instead of public ones. Thus, women don’t need to leave the house to do their needs and they can enjoy a number of benefits in terms of privacy as well as menstrual hygiene management.

The lack of sanitation facilities at school is one of the main causes of girls’ school drop-outs. In fact, because of the lack of toilets and menstrual hygiene facilities, a lot of girls miss schools at least once a month owing to menstruation. This causes a cumulative gap in their studies that ultimately compromises the entire year and school career. The programme is committed to provide gender-separated toilets for schools and healthcare facilities which drastically reduces female school dropouts and ensure the safety of women while at the hospital (i.e. during childbirth) and all the related consequences.

Hygiene promotion

Raising awareness to promote behavioural change

Malagasy families and households are managed and run by women. They are the responsible of the entire domestic life and they manage all the family daily tasks such us preparing and cooking food, collecting and storing water, cleaning houses and washing clothes.

H4o, besides providing appropriate facilities, target women and mothers to foster behavioural change and raise public awareness about determinants of health and risk factors of the daily poor practices.

The specific and customized interventions are focused on improving Nutrition habits and Hygiene practices for the whole household.

This approach enables women to make the entire household healthier, safer, and to obtain a key role in decision-making processes within their communities. It also allows them to cover a role of key stakeholder in H4O projects design and management.

Projects

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