The UN estimates that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were sexually assaulted during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. According to Amnesty International, 67 percent of these women, most left widowed by the conflict, contracted HIV. Post-conflict, women are often left alone as widows to assume the traditional roles of men in rebuilding their lives, while taking care of their own children and even the orphans of their neighbors. Focused on daily survival, they are frequently unable to attend to their own emotional and physical rehabilitation needs.
As the primary caretakers of their communities, women also have the greatest insight into priority issues facing women and their underlying root causes. Unfortunately, they often have the least representation globally and the least access locally to the education and resources needed to address these challenges directly. While microfinance exists for poor women, it rarely provides the level of funding necessary to tackle systemic social issues such as domestic violence, rape, illiteracy, or the sexual exploitation of women in exchange for basic needs. Further, such sizeable start-up debt would strain and distract these early stage social ventures from their social purposes as they struggle to generate the revenue streams necessary for repayment beyond ongoing operating costs. For an emerging change agent at the earliest stages of developing their ideas, especially among underserved women in post-conflict Africa, there are almost no opportunities to obtain the training and support necessary to launch their grassroots social ventures. Global Grassroots helps these women help themselves via the tools of Conscious Social Change.
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