Private Sector

CARE is presenting a session on sexual harassment in the workplace at the SEEP Network Learning Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment. So what are the implications for the industry of the prevalence of sexual harassment, and how can the industry provide a safer work environment for women?

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Logo from CARE’s multi-media Sexual Harassment Prevention Package for Garment Factories in Cambodia Logo from CARE’s multi-media Sexual Harassment Prevention Package for Garment Factories in Cambodia

My colleagues and I have spent a considerable share of our time during the past few months in discussions with our private sector partners, figuring out a common ground to work together on women’s economic empowerment (WEE). It can be an exciting but also somehow frustrating process as the potential scope of WEE interventions and the business case are always extremely broad, but the resources to invest are limited. For that reason, prioritisation is paramount. Ahead of the session on Systems Change for Women’s Economic Empowerment: How to work with companies? on 24 May at the SEEP Network Learning Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment in Bangkok, here are some thoughts and lessons learned.

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A woman cocoa farmer in Cote d'Ivoire A woman cocoa farmer in Cote d'Ivoire

The number of women in the world who still lack access to formal financial services stands at 1 billion. While this figure is going down, the discrimination that women face compared to men, in terms of their access to and control over loans, savings and bank account services, continue to hold women back. If we are to see this 1 billion figure drop down to zero, then private sector organisations, governments and civil society organisations must work together to tackle the barriers slowing up progress, and invest in solutions to target women’s equal inclusion in the formal financial arena.

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A woman member of a savings group in Kenya A woman member of a savings group in Kenya

By choosing to spend two minutes reading this article, you stand with the many millions of others around the world who are choosing not just to ‘make a difference’ for women’s economic empowerment, but who are choosing, in fact, to be that difference. The answer to my own question is that simple: everybody can make a difference when it comes to ensuring women have as equal access and control over economic resources as men.

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Maria Daffodil Arrante expanded her market stall business in the Philippines with a loan from Lendwithcare.org Maria Daffodil Arrante expanded her market stall business in the Philippines with a loan from Lendwithcare.org

Four years have passed since Rana Plaza collapsed, but are workers any safer? The short answer is yes, but there is still a lot of work to do to make sure their working conditions are truly safe and to ensure workers’ rights are respected across the board.

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Fiedowshi works in the inspection section at a garment factory in Bangladesh Fiedowshi works in the inspection section at a garment factory in Bangladesh

Demand for financial services from low-income groups is at an all-time high. Some of that demand is by informal savings and loans groups – including CARE’s 5 million Village Savings and Loan Association members – who want access to quality group bank accounts and mobile-based solutions. East Africa is leading the world in setting up informal savings groups and linking them to formal financial services. The recent East Africa Linkage Summit provided exactly the kinds of insights that other regions can learn from to scale up financial inclusion in 2017.

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CARE VSLA member in rural western Kenya making a transaction using the Kenya Equitel mobile app CARE VSLA member in rural western Kenya making a transaction using the Kenya Equitel mobile app

Reyna Araceli Reyes Sorto, age 44, lives in Villanueva Cortes in Honduras. When she was a child she dreamed of being a doctor yet because of economic hardship and lack of access to higher education, she was unable fulfil her dream. Until recently, she never thought a woman of her age could have the opportunity to have a job, to own a business, or to be engaged in any income generation activities; she believed only her husband could generate income. Then she joined a Rural Savings and Credit Union.

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Reyna Araceli Reyes Sorto standing in a field of maize Reyna Araceli Reyes Sorto standing in a field of maize
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