Browse by Theme: Women's Economic Empowerment

Gender equality is high on the corporate agenda, from sales of feminist merchandise, to gender pay gap reporting, to celebrities and politicians forming coalitions; confronting institutional norms and behaviour. It feels like we are in a moment in history where putting gender equity firmly on the table and creating positive change could achieve lasting equality. But behind the hashtags, the empowering t-shirts and glossy photographs, are we really creating change and tackling the barriers to gender equity and inclusive business?

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Women in Malawi say that being able to open their own bank account or save with a VSLA has caused their husbands to be more engaged.

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In Egypt’s VSLAs, the number of women who have worried about money in the last 30 days has been cut nearly in half. Why? Because women are saving $58 a year now—2.7 times more than they used to. They are also able to take out loans, and are more than 6 times more likely to be involved in a business where they make money. 77% say their incomes have gone up.

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For 27 years CARE has worked with communities to support Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) so that women living in poverty can save, invest and improve their lives. Our new Global Reach report shows astounding progress in the global spread and impact of these community-based financial solutions. Today 6.7 million people across 46 countries are saving and managing more than US$433 million per year through CARE VSLAs. Ahead of the SEEP Network SG2018 global savings group conference in Rwanda this week, this success prompts the question: ‘‘how many more women and girls could benefit from participating in a VSLA?”

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In Mali, the government is planning to give money to Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). Why? Because the Malian government recognises that savings groups are a key step towards women’s empowerment. Ahead of the SG2018 Power of Savings Groups conference in Rwanda this month, here’s what we’ve learned about the power of savings groups from Women on the Move - CARE's strategy for economically empowering 8 million women in West Africa by 2020 that starts with, and builds from, savings groups.

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Last week the World Bank’s much anticipated 2017 Global Findex database and accompanying report was released, revealing who has a bank account with a financial institution or mobile money service and how they’re using it. While great gains have been made in overall account ownership, we should be cautious about celebrating just yet. Women continue to lag behind men on almost all the financial inclusion markers and that’s a major shortcoming.

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Together with a colleague, Professor Malcolm Harper, I recently spent 18 months researching and editing a book on Islamic microfinance – which is defined as Shari’ah compliant financial services for poor people. Here are some of the key findings.

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