INT’L WOMEN’S DAY: Salesian programs focus on inclusion for girls and women

Programs provide opportunities for education and training.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 8, 2024)Top of Form - Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. The day honors the economic, political and social achievements of women while focusing the world’s attention on areas requiring further action.

This year’s theme is #InspireInclusion and aims to forge a more inclusive world for women. The International Women’s Day website notes, “When women aren’t present, we must ask if not, why not? When women are discriminated against, we must call out poor practice. When the treatment of women is not equitable, we must take action. And we must do this each time, every time.”

Salesian missionaries living and working in more than 130 countries are focused on achieving gender equity 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 schools and centers focus on inclusion of girls and young women to ensure equal access to education and the supports needed to graduate and find stable employment,” said Father Michael Conway, director of Salesian Missions. “These efforts with girls and young women ensure that they can achieve long-term self-sustainability while empowering them to make good life choices for themselves and their families.”

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


Salesian missionaries with Bosco Global have launched a project to provide 80 Indigenous artisan women in Ecuador with vocational training to improve artisanal processes, management and entrepreneurship. The women from the parishes of Salinas, Simiatug and Facundo Vela sell their products under the Warmi Ruray (Women who work) brand. The project received funding from Cabildo Gran Canaria in Spain.

Training sessions included the proper use of and responsible management of raw materials such as fibers, straw, and sheep and llama wool. Women created crafts to emphasize their cultural identity and showed innovation in their designs to make them more attractive to potential customers. One of the women said, “We are very proud to have developed a catalogue of handcrafted products with our brand.”

The women also participated in the production of jams. The project has helped make the packaging more visible and attractive, reduce production times and costs, and develop and incorporate a biosafety plan that guarantees compliance with manufacturing best practices throughout the production process.


Fifteen young women who are first-year students at Don Bosco College, located in Canlubang, Philippines, have been awarded scholarships that will allow them to pursue their dreams of becoming skilled electrical technicians thanks to The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) through One Meralco Foundation (OMF), according to a Malaya Business Insight article.

Each scholarship will cover tuition fees and allowances for students in the dual NC II program in electrical installation and maintenance and mechatronics. The scholarship program also provides a four-month on-the-job training for the students, who will be given the opportunity to join the Meralco workforce afterwards, according to the article.

This initiative falls under Meralco’s Gender Diversity and Inclusion Program called MBrace that aims to provide inclusive opportunities to empower women and increase the ratio of women in the company to 40% by 2030.


Young women in the “Gender Matters for Green Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET)” program at Don Bosco Gatenga, located in Gatenga, Rwanda, were provided toolkits for employment while completing their technical courses in plumbing and electricity. This is the first group of women in the program.

Salesians note recent studies have shown that women are still underrepresented in technical courses such as masonry, welding, plumbing, electricity, carpentry and many other courses that are believed to be reserved only for young men.

In response, Salesian missionaries are working to change that through the Gender Matters for Green TVET project, which is financed by the Austrian Development Cooperation and Jugend Eine Welt. Salesians aim to increase the number of girls studying technical professions by removing the barriers that can hinder access to the courses. To help with this, Salesians have also held an awareness-raising campaign in the surrounding community to encourage girls to enroll in technical courses.


Don Bosco Fambul, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations located in Freetown, offers the Girls Shelter GO+ program to support young girls who have been forced into sex work. Some of the girls are as young as 9 years old. Most of them have faced violence and sexual abuse. They include girls from other countries, villages or the poorest areas of Freetown, who all often are forced to provide financially for themselves and their families.

Don Bosco Fambul has been operating a shelter for young girls who have faced sexual abuse and are in need of shelter, support and education. Recognizing the specific need for girls who had been forced into prostitution, Father Jorge Crisafulli asked a group of girls if they wanted to change their lives.

He was able to create the Girls Shelter GO+ program inside a therapeutic center. Since the program was launched six years ago, it has changed the lives of more than 600 girls, given them the opportunity to start a new life, and provided access to education.


About Salesian Missions USA

Salesian Missions is headquartered in New Rochelle, NY, and is part of the Don Bosco Network—a worldwide federation of Salesian NGOs. The mission of the U.S.-based nonprofit Catholic organization is to raise funds for international programs that serve youth and families in poor communities around the globe. The Salesian missionaries are made up of priests, brothers and sisters, as well as laypeople—all dedicated to caring for poor children throughout the world in more than 130 countries and helping young people become self-sufficient by learning a trade that will help them gain employment. To date, more than 3 million youth have received services funded by Salesian Missions. These services and programs are provided to children regardless of race or religion. For more information, go to


Laura Perillo
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