Women and Children

Photo: Paul Jeffrey/CWS

Women make up approximately one half the population of the world, yet nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women. All around the globe women face hardship caused by lack of education, lack of opportunity and lack of equality. It is a recipe guaranteed to perpetuate the patterns that trap so many of them – and their children – in poverty.

For these reasons CWS supports programs to provide education for marginalized children and training to increase the income-earning potential of women in developing communities throughout the world. It is why we help schools develop safe and attractive environments for learning and why we support programs that advocate for the rights of children of incarcerated parents. It is also why we work with parents, teachers and children to help them learn the value of good hygiene and the practices necessary to improve their health.

Our impact


“I want to be a teacher. I want to go to school,” declares Jasmina, a young Roma girl in Serbia. Such a dream, especially for a Roma, among the most marginalized people in Europe, once was destined to remain just that – a dream. But CWS is working with partners to support primary and secondary schools so that Jasmina and other vulnerable children in Serbia can get an education, and to provide literacy training and income-generating programs for Roma women.

Photo: Frederic Vigne

School Safe Zones

Every child deserves a safe environment in which to learn. In its School Safe Zones (SSZ) program, CWS expands opportunities for children to attend school safely, both by making existing schools more secure and catalyzing new school infrastructure in isolated communities where none exists. Through a community-based, integrated approach, CWS supports mothers and fathers to mobilize resources toward their children’s education, and ensures that students have access to safe water, sanitation and food as necessary ingredients for success in school. CWS has also worked together with Kenya’s Ministry of Education to mainstream school safety standards throughout the country. See findings from a 2017 assessment of SSZ activities in Kenya’s Murang’a county.

Photo: Matt Hackworth/CWS

Children of incarcerated parents

After helping develop and fund the first ever regional case study about the issue CWS joined forces with some of the most recognized Children Rights and Civil Society organizations from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Argentina, Guatemala and Uruguay to form NNAPEs, the only regional Platform that works to advocate and defend the rights of the more than 2.000.000 children and youth that are suffering the incarceration of a loved one. Both at national and regional level, this CWS led Platform has managed to put this issue in the agenda and is advocating with regional and global agencies to make it a priority for the years to come. Learn more.

Photo: Silvia Varela


In Vietnam’s Lai Chau province children and their parents are taking part in a nutrition, health and hygiene project that includes planting small vegetable gardens. It will take time to change cooking habits because, says CWS Program Manager Ngo Quoc Dung, “people usually have rice, vegetables and some dried fishes for meals and they have no money to buy additional nutritious foods.” The CWS project is an important step in making good nutrition accessible for children in impoverished communities.

Photo: Annie Griffiths/Ripple Effect Images

Burundian refugee crisis

Since early 2015, more than 205,000 men, women and children have fled from Burundi into neighboring Tanzania in search of safety. For many refugee women, feeding their children is a daily struggle. CWS is working with 80 women in Nyarugusu refugee camp to increase financial literacy and improve access to income generation opportunities, with the goal of improving nutrition among families who face the greatest risk of food insecurity. With support from the ACT Alliance and other partners, CWS has been responding to the Burundian refugee crisis since July 2015.

Aaron Tate/CWS

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-Based Violence- violence and other forms of harm that are rooted in gender-related discrimination and inequities - affects women and girls in all regions of the world. By emphasizing women's leadership in community development, CWS addresses one of the root causes of GBV. In 2017, CWS initiated efforts to document the links between women's leadership in rural Kenyan water and school committees and GBV prevention, and designed community education and GBV prevention activities based on the findings.