The World Economic Forum predicts that global gender parity won’t be achieved until 2133. None of us fighting for it today will be around then to see what it looks like. Yet, each of us needs to take action now to ensure our children and grandchildren experience it.
Educational Empowerment (EE) generates gender parity through microfinance in a village outside Bago in Myanmar. Here, in the dirt covered streets, microfinance creates opportunities for women living in poverty to start small businesses. Women earn household income, and attain increased decision-making power, self-confidence, and community influence.
Ma Thet and Lei Lei Win spend many hours together every day sitting on one of their porches rolling cigars. They love to laugh and reminisce about when they were young and growing up in their village. Ma Thet, a widow with five children, took a loan for $70 to help her continue her small cigar business. While this may not seem like much to us, it is enough to allow her to run her cottage industry by herself, which then enables her children to stay in school rather than work to supplement the family income.
Ma Khin Cho runs a home shop, selling kitchen items, produce, and rice and coconut soup. She has taken out and repaid two loans and is now using her third loan to build her business and invest in her shop. These low-interest loans empower Ma Khin Cho to significantly contribute to the family income and be an active participant in the village economy.
When a woman needs a haircut or a bride needs make-up for her special day, she goes to see Mu Mu Sein. Her first loan was $40, her second was $50, and her third was $70. She’s working to grow her business and buy more supplies and equipment. The income helps her support her family and her young niece adopted after the girl’s mother disappeared on a business trip to Malaysia.
What do these women and the 400 other households who have taken out loans have in common? 100% payback! Educational Empowerment is proud to support this loan program and empower these women. This model also puts money back into the community by using some of the interest income to support the local school and health clinic. Like these women, it’s beautiful.
Throughout the world, microfinance is acclaimed as THE answer to poverty and empowerment. However, if not done properly, it’s only a temporary fix. Educational Empowerment’s partner in Myanmar utilizes a model that is sustainable for the recipients. Women learn to stand on their own rather than being dependent forever on the ‘next loan’. And, their daughters are able to stay in school, rather than being pulled out to earn family income. Educational Empowerment is honored to be an essential part of creating gender parity in Myanmar through this investment.
You too can make a difference in the world’s fight for gender parity:
- Join Girls Globe conversation on Twitter @GirlsGlobe.
- Become a champion for women’s rights.
- Donate to Educational Empowerment.
- Let your voice be heard for women worldwide!
Educational Empowerment was created by women and for women and girls. EE promotes literacy and education for children, families and communities severely affected by poverty and injustice in Myanmar. By empowering women and girls through education, we position women in Myanmar to attain their equal rights.
Cover photo credit: ILO, Flickr Creative Commons