“Empowerment of women and gender equality are prerequisites for achieving political, social, economic, cultural, and environmental security among all peoples.”
-Beijing Platform for Action, Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995)
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, CESO, a Canadian nonprofit organization, published a report on the role of women in economic development. You can access it at:
Women play a signifiant role in the world’s economy. The income of a woman contributes to the household income and a woman is more likely than a man to invest her resources into the welfare of her family. However, women face many barriers. Challenges are faced upon entering the workforce, and then once they enter the workforce, they face additional challenges of lesser pay, harassment, and more.
The solutions are just as challenging as the issue itself but one word tells it all.
“Through better jobs, more options to start and manage viable business, greater access to land, education, and skills development, and more opportunities to participate in decision-making, women can pull themselves out of poverty and improve their quality of life and the quality of their families and communities.” (p. 5)
Half the Sky Movement is also dedicated to economic empowerment of women. Listen to Zainab Salbib, Founder of Women for Women International, discuss the power of investment in women and girls.
Microfinance has proven to be a great way to invest in women and contribute to economic development. Georgette Minoungou is a business owner in Burkina Faso. She began by earning money from selling fruit at the local market. Her income was barely enough to meet her family’s needs and it was unstable. Her plan was to build a fruit stand in the market. Georgette established a solidarity loan with other women in Burkina Faso to access capital from a local bank. She not only built her fruit stand, but she also traveled to the Ivroy Coast to purchase additional types of fruit to sell. Her business grew quickly and she now runs several fruit and vegetable stands in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. She has seven employees, pays for her children to go to school, and has two homes.
Additional opportunities to foster economic empowerment for women? Create opportunities for learning and training, educate women, Increase access to productive resources and assets, like land or equipment, support female entrepreneurship, and more.