Gender Empowerment: It's In our Hands

5th March 2015


Our work at Raleigh International is aimed towards contributing to the millennium development goals, one of which is Goal #3: ‘Promote gender equality and empower women.’ International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and recognition of women and this year the UN has called for a focus on effective action towards empowerment and equality.

In many of the communities we work in, women are often marginalised, with little say in community decisions or time away from household chores. One way to overcome this is by setting up women’s groups, which provide an opportunity for women to come together to share skills and knowledge, discuss problems and propose solutions, such as sharing household chores between family members so that women can be treated with more equality and the community is better supported.

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Raleigh, which is why we are really proud to share Michael’s story, who, along with his fellow Raleigh ICS team leader Roxanne, is working to ensure that the women’s groups continue to empower women in communities after volunteers leave.


“As a result of the work we did in the community in helping to set up a women’s group I have decided to set up an organisation called ‘In our Hands’ that will help support women’s groups after the volunteers leave. We want to create a network between women’s group across Nicaragua, and I hope to roll this out to other parts of the world.

“I saw first-hand how empowering women had such a positive impact on the community in which I was living; it gave them a space in which they were able to discuss the issues that mattered to them freely and decide for themselves how they can make a positive change in their community.”


I knew that there may not be any support for this group once we had left as the resources that are being filtered down to the community are already over stretched.

I wanted to support the group and the thousands like it, by empowering them to continue in the work that they are doing for their communities but offering them the support they may need to do so. We are going to work in partnership with local cooperatives and charities to provide training and resources to help secure the future of these groups.

We hope to ensure the longevity of these essential groups and also provide a platform to advocate on their behalf with the aim to increase recognition of the unpaid work of women and address the ever present inequality faced by women worldwide.

“If it wasn’t for Raleigh ICS I could never have had the opportunity to work with such an inspiring group of people, in particular the women’s group we helped to form, and consequently would never have embarked on this journey to start a charity ourselves.”


Raleigh ICS gave me the opportunity to really understand how young people can play a positive role in development, both here in the UK and overseas. As a result of doing the ICS programme I had the great fortune to live and work with communities and get to better understand the complexities of development work and the day-to-day struggles that people face; yet simultaneously seeing how much is being done in the fight to overcome poverty.”

Michael volunteered with Raleigh ICS in Nicaragua 2014. In Our Hands focuses on gender empowerment at grassroots level. Have you been involved in a similar project, or are you keen to find out more about promoting gender equality? Get in touch at