While the global gender gap remains immense, and progress toward parity is in many places slowing, today is nevertheless a day for celebration. The extraordinary resilience, courage and determination of women will be recognised worldwide this International Women’s Day, and we must remember that every small step is valuable in the push towards gender justice. 

Support for small, local projects is instrumental in initiating change. Regardless of where we are in the world, the mechanisms of so many organisations are fundamentally the same: women work unremittingly to help the vulnerable to empower themselves.  

The South Lakeland UK charity Springfield offers a safe space and support for those affected by domestic violence and abuse. Run by women and for women, Springfield recognises the obstacles facing women who are trying to take control and make a change, and offers the help needed to rebuild self-esteem and regain independence. 

Speaking to one staff member at Springfield, she identified a fundamental resource which is lacking and hindering the charity’s work. The addition of a vehicle would not only help women collect their belongings once they have fled an abusive home, but would also allow Springfield to expand their services to help women outside of the refuge in the wider community. 

In an effort to overcome this obstacle, Springfield has placed a bid on the People’s Project’s Lottery of £50,000 for a minibus which would greatly assist the effectiveness of their work. Additionally, local catering company Gandhi's Flip-Flop will donate the proceeds from their annual not-for-profit event to the charity, to help them to continue the brilliant work that they do. 

Abuse and violence against women continues to be a major global issue, but our response must begin at a local level, right here in our communities. Springfield are representative of the small scale yet crucial work by women everywhere in the fight against gender inequality, and today should be used as a platform to celebrate such efforts, and to inspire and stimulate change.

Written by ICS Alumni Jessie Coleman (October - December 2015 cycle, El Salvador)