Browse by Theme: Women's Economic Empowerment

CARE has spent more than 20 years engaging with women employed in garment factories. As with many organisations working with the garment industry, worker training is an important component of any factory engagement. However, our evidence increasingly suggests that for changes to go beyond the individual level, training alone is not enough, and we need to support and enable workers so that they can collectively take action.

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When I travelled to Zimbabwe at the end of last year to conduct the annual evaluation of our two microfinance partners there, I arrived just as its latest economic crisis was unfolding. So I was able to see for myself how peer-to-peer funders like Lendwithcare can play a critical role in supporting entrepreneurs and their businesses in unstable environments.

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We usually think of women in CARE’s projects as beneficiaries or participants, but they are so much more powerful than that. Women who work in CARE’s programmes use their skills to build businesses, create jobs, keep fresh produce in markets, and respond to emergencies. Let’s flip the narrative. Instead of pointing to these women as people CARE helps, why don’t we treat them as the powerhouses they are? They are helping to grow national economies, sometimes for as little as 5 cents a week.

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We can’t achieve women’s financial inclusion without considering harmful social norms and trying to change them. This was the key message I shared during the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) annual Savings and Credit Forum in Bern earlier this month. The forum’s theme was ‘how to reach 1 billion women’ and I was there on behalf of CARE International UK and the CGAP Women’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice to speak about how gendered social norms create barriers to women’s financial inclusion, and how to change them.

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This is the last in a series of blog posts marking Financial Inclusion Week and sharing valuable lessons from our POWER Africa (Promoting Opportunities for Women's Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa) project. As part of POWER Africa, CARE commissioned a study to assess the role that VSLAs play in building the poor’s resilience and ability to cope with economic shocks due to environmental crises and political unrest in Ethiopia and Burundi. Here we look at how VSLAs helped build the resilience of a single mother living in chronic poverty and we pull out four common findings from the study.

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Today, on World Savings Day, we are celebrating the VSLA model by sharing learning from CARE’s POWER Africa (Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa) project. In our first blog in this series, we looked at VSLAs as an entry point for financial inclusion, but POWER Africa has shown that VSLAs can also have positive impacts across other areas of CARE’s work. Here we highlight some key lessons on adapting the VSLA model to the needs of adolescent girls.

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To mark Financial Inclusion Week, we are shining a spotlight on CARE’s POWER Africa (Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa) project and the impact that savings-led financial inclusion has had on 750,000 people from poor households in rural areas of Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Rwanda. The project has produced some rich lessons for practitioners, which we will explore this week in a series of blog posts, starting with the process and impact of linking Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) to formal financial services.

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