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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Salesian Missions highlights health, education programs that empower girls and young women

(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the United Nations and its international partners in celebrating International Women’s Day, celebrated each year on March 8. The day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women around the globe while focusing the world’s attention on areas requiring further action.

Each year, International Women’s Day focuses on a theme. This year the theme is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.” The United Nations notes that this year’s International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. The United Nations highlights the global marches and campaigns, including #MeToo and #TimesUp in the United States and their counterparts in other countries, on issues ranging from sexual harassment and femicide to equal pay and women’s political representation.

This year’s theme echoes the priority theme of the upcoming 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. It aims to draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population and are being left behind in every measure of development, according to the United Nations.

Salesian missionaries living and working in more than 130 countries around the globe are focused on achieving gender equality through programs targeted specifically for young women and girls. These programs strive to empower young women and girls by providing opportunities for education and training that lead to livable wage employment.

“Salesian missionaries around the globe empower young girls and women through education and social development services to ensure that they have equal access to attend school and gain the skills needed for later employment,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Young women and girls face many disadvantages and barriers to accessing education and achieving financial independence despite their huge potential. Those who are able to access education are more often able to achieve financial independence and make better and healthier choices that affect not only themselves, but their families and communities as well.”

In honor of International Women’s Day, Salesian Missions is proud to share some of its programs around the globe that empower young women and girls.


Thanks to the joint efforts of several Salesian organizations in Spain, a Women’s Promotion Center is taking shape in Kouba, within the capital city of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The center will be operated by the Salesian Daughters of Mary Help of Christians as part of a vast socioeducational project. Work started in December 2017 and should be completed within 10 months.

This is the second construction phase of the large socioeducational, cultural and sporting complex for children and older youth, especially girls, that the Salesian sisters have planned for the next five to 10 years. The complete project will include a nursery school, primary and secondary schools, a shelter for girls with limited resources, an oratory open to the neighborhood with sports facilities and educational workshops of various kinds. The new Women’s Center will offer apprenticeships and foster literacy.

The Women’s Center was developed to address the precarious situation experienced by many women and young girls by providing qualified skills and professional training in sectors such as catering, tailoring, information technology and hairdressing. The project includes courses of literacy, support for work placement, education in values and time management. The main objective of the project is to train girls and women so they can work and earn an income while breaking free from a life of poverty. Read more about this program >


ANS_Ethiopia_08-04-2017In 2002, in the village of Abobo in western Ethiopia, a group of Italian and Spanish volunteers set up a local health clinic in collaboration with local Salesian missionaries. Today, the Abobo Health Center is the symbol of the community and provides health services for the more than 4,000 local villagers. Having expanded its reach over the years, the health clinic also serves the approximately 20,000 people living in the area and the 200,000 people in the entire region.

Two Spanish physicians, Tere and Maria, are the soul of the health center and aim to provide medical care for those who are affected by malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and various infections common in the region. Thanks to their passion and care, the clinic also has a special focus on maternal and child care, two of the most at-risk populations in the country.

Together they are engaged in providing wellness exams and regular screenings for pregnant women, as well as vaccinations to mothers during pregnancy. Tere and Maria are also focused on preventative care and routinely provide medical care to pregnant women to prevent diseases such as such as anemia, hypertension, malaria and various infections that also cause serious consequences to the newborn child. They provide an average of 40 maternal vaccinations per week and attend to 30 births per month.

For difficult pregnancies and childbirth, Tere and Maria are also well-connected to the larger hospital in the city of Gambella. For women who require more advanced medical care, they will provide ambulance services to transport these women to the hospital. After childbirth, Tere and Maria provide follow-up care to the mothers and newborn exams. Read more about this program >



ANS_India_11-02-2018_Dattopant ThengadiThe Don Bosco Development Society held a two-day workshop on the candle making business for women in the Salesian-run Self-Help Group. Forty women from the slums of Mumbai completed the training course, which was also held as a flood relief project supported by Don Bosco Mondo in Germany. This training was held in association with Dattopant Thengadi National Board for Workers Education Development.

The participants learned how to make fancy candles in a cost-effective manner. During the workshop, participants were also taught about marketing, costing, budgeting, pricing and promoting their product. The participants were truly dedicated to learning the skills and determined to start a small business. Raw material was also distributed to participants to help them in starting their business. The workshop was designed as a way to reach out to families in Mumbai who had been affected by recent flooding and train them in skills that would help them earn some extra income for their families. Read more about this program >



ANS_SierraLeone_06-15-2018Don Bosco Fambul, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations located in Freetown, has been helping young women caught up in prostitution come in off the streets. Father Jorge Crisafulli began this work as part of Don Bosco Fambul’s Girls Shelter in September 2016, when he launched the program aimed at searching for girls in their workplaces where they are surrounded by alcohol and drugs and at risk of danger and exploitation. The goal is to offer them shelter, health, nutrition and education, and wherever possible, reintegrate them into their families.

Close to 200,000 young girls and older women were sexually assaulted during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war, according to UNICEF. And although the war has stopped, the sexual violence against women continues. Young women are at risk for sexual violence, trafficking and forced pregnancy, among other atrocities. Today, one third of girls are forced into marriage and often sexually assaulted by their husbands before their 15th birthday. In addition, 90 percent of girls are subjected to female genital mutilation. The Girls Shelter, which has been in operation for five years, was developed in response to this crisis.

Salesian missionaries, professional social workers and pastoral workers provide crisis intervention and follow-up care for girls and young women who have been victims of sexual assault. Girls that access the shelter services are also able to attend educational programs that are a part of the broader Don Bosco Fambul network of programs. These educational programs give young women the skills necessary to find and retain employment. Read more about this program >



Salesian Missions

UN Women – International Women’s Day