【明報專訊】In celebration of International Women Day 2019, we partnered with Mother's Choice, PathFinders and social service organisations to renovate the living spaces inhabited by vulnerable migrant mothers and their babies, pregnant at-risk teenagers and low-income elderly women living in public housing.
The month-long campaign was launched on March 2, starting with renovations to shelters for pregnant teenagers at Mother's Choice on the first day. Around 15 volunteers worked hard to remove flaking and peeling paint, prime and re-paint walls and ceilings. Throughout March, more than 140 volunteers helped to improve the living conditions of vulnerable women of different age groups, by renovating homes for elderly women, migrant mothers and their babies and pregnant teenagers.
So why do we focus on women? Women and children are the most likely to be affected by substandard living conditions and insecure land rights. In Asia, women living in poverty represent two-thirds of the poor in the region. This comes with a high likelihood that they did not attend school during childhood. As a result, after reaching adulthood, they ended up illiterate and now earn very little cash for the work they do and will live a shorter life than men. These women also live a life of inequality, discrimination and possibly gender-based violence. We believe that putting a safe roof over women's heads can lift families out of poverty. Our Women Build programme has been supporting women around the world since 1991.
Apart from house building and renovation projects, We also provide emergency and transitional shelters after natural disasters, water and sanitation hygiene solutions, and financial literacy and construction training for women-led families. Sharada lost her home in Nepal when the earthquakes hit in 2015. After the disaster, she joined our mason training, "I am now the first mason in my village. This could prove that we can do everything that the boys can do." Sharada has learned how to mix mortar, lay bricks and measure excavation depths. We are hoping that Sharada will inspire more women and girls to build for their future.
■By Jo Hayes, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong