Development Blog

In the run-up to the Global Summits on Refugees and Migrants at the United Nations in September 2016, CARE launched a petition to campaign for better protection for innocent civilians fleeing conflicts and natural disasters. We had three asks in our petition targeting the UK Prime Minister Theresa May, which secured the support of over 21,000 people. So to what extent did the Refugee and Migrant Summits deliver on our demands?

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Refugees gathering in a park in Belgrade, Serbia, in July 2016 Refugees gathering in a park in Belgrade, Serbia, in July 2016

I recently visited Ghana with a team of Mondelēz International Ambassadors to understand the Cocoa Life value chain from seeds to farming to trading and processing. It was great to see an innovative, inclusive business model in action, driving sustainability for the world’s largest snacking company AND improving the livelihoods of poor cocoa farmers. During the visit I saw for myself how a vibrant value chain is stronger than the sum of its partners; and why it’s important for businesses to address gender inequality and financial exclusion. I also learnt a lot about chocolate!

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Women cocoa farmers and members of the Awewoho-Manhyia Village Savings and Loan Association in Ghana Women cocoa farmers and members of the Awewoho-Manhyia Village Savings and Loan Association in Ghana

There is an irony to current thinking on the private sector and peacebuilding.

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A meeting of the community development committee at Sikabatou Village, Cote d'Ivoire, organised under the Cocoa Life program A meeting of the community development committee at Sikabatou Village, Cote d'Ivoire, organised under the Cocoa Life program

During her maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Theresa May launched a global campaign to end modern slavery (which she previously described as “the great human rights issue of our time”) and called upon other world leaders to join her in this endeavour. Yet every day young girls fleeing from conflict and violence fall prey to human trafficking rings and the UK is standing idly by.

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A girl holds her head at a refugee camp in Serbia, July 2016 (note: image for illustrative purposes, not necessarily an unaccompanied minor) A girl holds her head at a refugee camp in Serbia, July 2016 (note: image for illustrative purposes, not necessarily an unaccompanied minor)

Thursday 22nd September at the United Nations General Assembly was a tremendous moment for the global women’s economic empowerment agenda. Not only did Ban Ki Moon become the first Secretary General to declare himself a feminist (for which he received a rousing standing ovation), it was also the launch of the first report by the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.

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Young women members of a Village Savings and Loan Association group in Jordan, supported by CARE in a programme in partnership with the H&M Foundation Young women members of a Village Savings and Loan Association group in Jordan, supported by CARE in a programme in partnership with the H&M Foundation

Unless women have more empowerment, autonomy, and access to resources, we are not going to achieve change. Those are the words of Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica and women’s economic empowerment advocate, speaking at an event on financial inclusion co-hosted by CARE and Women’s World Banking at the UN (21 September 2016). Our event was followed by the release of the report of the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment – so what actually needs to happen for a radical step change in accelerating women’s economic empowerment?

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Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking; Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica; and Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE USA Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking; Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica; and Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE USA

Growing Together, a new report launched on 29 September by CARE, SABMiller, the Harvard Kennedy Corporate Responsibility Initiative and Business Fights Poverty, sets out why businesses should take a much more proactive and collaborative approach to supporting the micro-enterprises in their value chains, and provides practical support to doing so.

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