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On 8th March 2011 the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day (IWD), a day when people around the world campaign for gender equality; for the rights of women and girls to be educated, to work, to vote and to be free from violence, with the same rights and opportunities as men. ChildHope and our partners strongly believe in the importance of working with communities to achieve this goal, and in so doing to promote our vision of a world where boys and girls alike can live a life free from injustice and abuse.

Despite significant advances in women's rights and gender equality in the last 100 years, women and girls around the world still face more violence and greater inequalities in health and education compared with men and boys. A recent UNICEF study found that in Ethiopia 77% of female adolescents (aged 15-19) think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances and only 39% of female adolescents are literate compared to 62% of male adolescents. These statistics highlight the continued importance of the work done by ChildHope and our partners across Asia, South America and Africa to help both girls and boys to understand the concept of gender equality and to ensure that girls have access to healthcare and education.

What ChildHope does to support girls
In Ethiopia, ChildHope is working with the Organization for Child Development and Transformation to increase protection for girls who are or have been living and working on the streets. This project directly supports sexually abused and exploited girls by providing shelters to protect them and helping to reintegrate them with their families. It also works with the wider community, training and supporting the police so that they are in a better position to protect children at risk of sexual exploitation and building the capacity of children, the community and local government agencies to implement strategies to prevent sexual abuse and to protect and reintegrate street girls. Working this way ensures that the rights of these vulnerable girls are better protected, both now and in the future.

ChildHope also advocates for the necessity of women's and children's organisations to work together to fight gender based discrimination and achieve equal rights and opportunities for all. We are currently developing a research project to share learning between Brazil, South Africa and the UK on the links between violence against women and violence against children, with the aim of improving understanding of all forms of gendered domestic violence and thus enabling the development of more effective interventions to prevent it.

By bringing together boys and girls in work on gender equality and opening dialogues between women's and children's organisations, ChildHope aims to advance progress towards a world free of violence, where the rights of all children are respected and protected, regardless of gender.

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