A young Barnstaple volunteer has been helping Burkina Faso women make a fair living and take charge of their lives.

Rebecca Browne is currently 4,000 miles from home, helping to improve the lives of women and girls in the city of Réo.

To coincide with International Women’s Day, which was on Thursday, Rebecca is speaking out about her experience and encouraging other young Brits to get involved.

The former Park Community School and Petroc pupil has been working as part of a team of young British and Burkinabé volunteers on a project to increase women’s economic empowerment, enabling them to run profitable and sustainable businesses.

Women and girls make up more than half the world’s population,but are often more deeply affected by poverty than their male counterparts.

In rural Burkina Faso, many women have no means of earning an independent income, which makes them more vulnerable to poverty, and stops them reaching their full potential.

Rebecca and her team mates have been working with rights-based development Charity, International Service, and its partner organisation UGF CDN.

UGF CDN supports women to increase their literacy, their financial independence and their awareness of their rights.

Rebecca and her team have been working with UGF CDN members to produce and market their shea butter products to increase their income.

They have also been delivering awareness raising sessions on HIV/AIDS, FGM and sexual and reproductive health.

Rebecca travelled to Burkina Faso through the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, funded by UK Aid.

She said: “Although there have been major steps to improving gender inequality in Burkina Faso there is still a lot of work to be done raising awareness on women’s rights, sanitation, family planning, sanitation and hygiene, as well as sexual and reproductive health.

“We have carried out numerous sessions so far in UGF CDN, schools and neighbouring villages, which have been our greatest achievements so far.

“The language differences and the heat have definitely made it harder to acclimatise, bit it is clear out team is committed to putting our all into making this placement a complete success.”

ICS volunteers work alongside young local volunteers in some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America on issues like sexual health, education and economic empowerment.

You don’t need cash, skills or qualifications to take part – just the ambition to make a difference.

For more information about ICS and how to apply, visit http://www.volunteerics.org/