Browse by Theme: Women's Voice

CARE has been working with Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) since we first launched the model in Niger in 1991. Over the years, VSLAs have reached more 7.6 million members, 81% of them women. The economic impacts of the VSLA groups are well documented. Less formally documented is the impact that VSLAs have on women themselves and on the social fabric of their communities.

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“Other young people discouraged me from joining the savings group, because this was not our culture. My peers laughed at me. But I was strong and I knew what I wanted, so I joined anyway.” These are the words of Emelenziana, a young woman in Tanzania. Since CARE launched the Ishaka programme in Burundi in 2009, we’ve been working specifically with young people through our Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) approach to support women – starting with savings – to transform their world. Here’s a sample of some of the impacts we’ve seen with VSLAs for young people.

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By Reshma Aziz Khan and Sébastien Fornerod

CARE seeks to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and social injustice to bring lasting change to the lives of poor and vulnerable people (CARE 2020 Program Strategy). But how many of us can say that tackling these underlying causes is what we focus on every day?

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“He always came home late and drunk and he often kicked the door open while hurling insults at me and the children. I became such a miserable person.... After a number of curriculum sessions, I started to notice a change of heart in my husband, he started taking responsibility for the family needs.... He even went ahead to open up a joint account for us.” (Quote by a project participant – but not from Olive who is pictured above.) Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most common form of violence against women and girls – but our Indashyikirwa project in Rwanda proved there are ways to change this: by supporting couples to build healthier, more equitable relationships, and by helping communities to challenge and address the values which normalise violence.

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CARE is committed to tackling the underlying causes of poverty and social injustice to bring lasting change to the world’s most vulnerable. This requires supporting and engaging with change agents. Research shows that major social change only occurs when those who have been excluded from power organise collectively in the form of social movements to challenge existing systems and their impact. In addition, there is growing evidence globally that feminist social movements are driving gender justice.

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As a researcher, I see that humanitarian practitioners listen to and involve local women and women’s groups when delivering programmes on the ground – or at least, if they don’t, they know that they should. But if we are really serious about localisation and gender equality, we also need to invite women from the countries where we deliver programmes to come to our learning and practice workshops back in our home countries.

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Published on behalf of the Women 7 movement:

We are entering the final stretch before the G7 summit, which will open on 24 August in Biarritz. In September 2018, before the UN, the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron announced a 2019 G7 with a renewed format, focused on the Sahel region and on the fight against inequalities, and he called for women’s rights to become a “great global cause”. Only 10 days away from the summit, what has been done so far is not enough.

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