Browse by Theme: Women's Voice

Megan Gaventa writes: As I took part in CARE’s recent roundtable discussion, ‘Invisible Women in Global Value Chains: A Missed Opportunity?’, I couldn’t help but feel that the event was timely. Not just because it was part of CARE’s 70th anniversary celebrations. The excitement surrounding the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals – and their standalone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment – was still fresh in the mind. Recent weeks had also brought the under-representation of women in business, politics and other spheres into the spotlight, as Elle’s photoshopped images of world leaders reminded us how far there is to go.

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This year marks 15 years since world leaders passed UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. On Tuesday 13 October, diplomats meet to review and chart ways forward on global efforts to protect and empower women in times of conflict. Given what we have learned from UNSCR 1325, what should we do differently from tomorrow on the Syrian conflict?

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So we did it. On Friday the world gathered in New York, flags were raised for 193 countries including Palestine and the Vatican for the first time, and to universal acclamation the new Sustainable Development Goals were gavelled into existence. What had taken three years of hard negotiation, impassioned argument and long technical nit-picking were suddenly a reality.

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On Friday 25 September, together with DFID and UN Women, CARE will bring together government, international organisations, business and civil society at the ‘Transforming Economies: Empowering Women and Girls’ event (during the UNGA summit to approve the new Sustainable Development Goals). Participants come in their roles as leaders, decision makers, and activists. On Friday hopefully they will also come as change makers.

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The private sector is a main actor involved in women’s economic empowerment in rural value chains: large traders, retailers or manufacturers often hold the keys to improving women’s access to extension services, financial services, input provision, market information and technology. They also have the negotiating power to help put gender equality on the agenda of producers’ associations and cooperatives.

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Village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) have been a powerful tool for enabling millions of women to access loans, set up small businesses and improve their quality of life. But as an evaluation of a CARE VSLA programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has shown, VSLAs can also be a platform for addressing the social norms that sustain gender inequality, and can therefore also contribute to the wider and more complex processes of women’s empowerment.

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20 years after the Beijing conference the incidence of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) remains outrageously high with one in three women in the world condemned to experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Nevertheless we should recognise and celebrate the progress that has been made, and highlight initiatives that are making a difference.

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