International Women’s Day: Welsh Government celebrates women ‘overcoming barriers’
The Welsh Government has marked International Women’s Day by championing women over coming barriers and campaigning for gender equality.
Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt met with a woman who has built a successful business in her homeland in Uganda and inspired women and girls in her community.
Over the last week the Minister also commemorated the lives of two Welsh women awarded Purple Plaques after fighting for girls to study medicine and for gender equality in Wales.
Speaking during an event at Portland House in Cardiff Bay, the Minister said the success of female-led projects as part of the Wales and Africa programme showed exactly what could be achieved with the right support.
Wales and Africa projects help fund and support vulnerable Ugandan girls back into education and helps widows married women with beekeeping in northern Uganda along with offering tree planting to help women into natural resources management.
Jenipher Sambazi – who has been supported through the programme – overcame barriers in her homeland of Uganda in a sector that has long been male dominated to now help run the social enterprise coffee brand Jenipher’s Coffi.
Historically in Uganda, women have had less access to land, credit and technical assistance but Jenipher’s farms are now producing high quality, Fairtrade certified, organically grown coffee.
Jane Hutt said: “In Wales we will always continue to look to other countries to help us better understand our own role in the world, so it has been a privilege speaking to Jenipher to hear how she has overcome challenges she faced.
“It’s truly inspirational to see how she is leading the way for women and communities.
“We all have a role to play in advancing gender equality in Wales. It is crucial that we work in partnership to achieve the change we all want to see – a gender equal Wales.”
Jenipher Sambazi, who has travelled from Uganda to spend some time in Wales during Fairtrade Fortnight said: “The support for Fairtrade by the Welsh Government and others has allowed me to play a full role in the running of my coffee cooperative.
“Widows like me never used to have a say in how our coffee was sold but we now get a better price and a Fairtrade premium to help our families.”
Over the last week the Minister has also celebrated the lives of two women who fought tirelessly for gender equality in Wales.
Last Friday the Minister unveiled a Purple Plaque in Brecon to commemorate the life of Frances Hoggan, who was born in 1843 and faced huge challenges to study and practice medicine as a woman in a male-dominated world, becoming only the second woman in Europe to be awarded a Medical Doctorate at just 26 years old.
The Minister also celebrated the life of former politician and equalities campaigner Val Feld, who was the first woman in the UK to have a purple plaque commemorated in her honour at the Senedd in 2018.
Val Feld, who was also previously director of the Equal Opportunities Commission for Wales and Shelter Cymru, campaigned to give a voice to women and minority groups throughout her political life.
The Minister added: “Frances never forgot her roots and campaigned for education for girls in Wales. I am sure she would have approved of the work we are doing to encourage girls and young women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
“Val was a champion for equalities and social justice, leading the way for others to follow in her footsteps, and it was a pleasure to work alongside her.”
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International Womens Day celebrates too the struggle for safe spaces for women, including Welsh Women’s refuges. Recognises that “equality” has limitations in view of male superior physique and male misogynist culture. From women-only refuges to women’s sports, Jane Hutt and the WGovt have no right to claim to represent women on this Day.