Women often suffer especially harsh conditions in impoverished communities. According to the World Health Organization, 800 women die every day from complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth, 99% of them in developing countries. Women have lower literacy rates than men in many countries, and often, when a child must leave school to perform work such as carrying water, girls are chosen to make this sacrifice. Improving the condition of women benefits not only women themselves but also their societies.
“[Women’s literacy] improves livelihoods, leads to better child and maternal health, and favors girls’ access to education. In short, newly literate women have a positive ripple effect on all development indicators,” reports Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, in the 2010 development report.
Islamic Relief dedicates an increasing number of resources to improving education and health for women and girls. Recent programs have included education and income generation. In the United States, Islamic Relief supports several programs—including a women’s shelter—that empower survivors of domestic abuse.