Who can make a difference for Women’s Economic Empowerment?

by 05th May 2017
Maria Daffodil Arrante expanded her market stall business in the Philippines with a loan from Lendwithcare.org Maria Daffodil Arrante expanded her market stall business in the Philippines with a loan from Lendwithcare.org

By choosing to spend two minutes reading this article, you stand with the many millions of others around the world who are choosing not just to ‘make a difference’ for women’s economic empowerment, but who are choosing, in fact, to be that difference. The answer to my own question is that simple: everybody can make a difference when it comes to ensuring women have as equal access and control over economic resources as men.

However, success in this pursuit will only be accelerated and ultimately achieved if organisations and individuals join forces, share ideas, learn from each other, and find solutions together.

The United Nations has long recognised this – recently establishing a High Level Panel (HLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment which champions a “multipronged approach by all four sets of actors (government, business, civil society and UN and multilateral organizations) working simultaneously and in partnership to empower all women in all countries.”

My own organisation, CARE International, has been committed to collaboration for decades, and our views on women’s economic empowerment have been shaped by working with the most vulnerable women all over the world for over 70 years. In this specific area of work, CARE has identified four key pathways to women’s economic empowerment (increasing financial inclusion opportunities; promoting dignified work; promoting women’s participation and leadership in value chains; and enhancing entrepreneurship) and we have an ambition to reach 30 million women by 2020 through advancing each of these pathways.

Similarly, our success in this endeavour will only be realised by engaging with others, which is one of the reasons we have chosen to support the upcoming SEEP Network Learning Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment – being held in Bangkok from 23rd to 25th May. As a member of SEEP, CARE has long championed the importance of sharing with, and learning from, the multitude of organisations, entrepreneurs, and other groups committed to creating new and better opportunities for vulnerable populations. The SEEP Forum in Bangkok offers a critical and timely opportunity in 2017 to share experiences and successes, and to draw learning from across an impressive range of speakers and panellists.

During the Forum, CARE colleagues from around the world will be providing expertise on approaches to women’s economic empowerment, as well as moving our engagements and collaborations with other organisations forward. Specifically, CARE will be hosting sessions on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (chaired by CARE Cambodia) and on Inclusive and Equitable Agricultural Systems (chaired by CARE USA), and we will be participating in sessions on Working with the Corporate Sector and on the importance of Digital Financial Inclusion.

Over the coming weeks my colleagues will be writing on these pages about each of these topics, sharing our experiences and providing ideas about how you and your organisation can also collaborate and share relevant learning with us.

I look forward to hearing from them and from you and wish the SEEP Network every success with the Learning Forum.

Nilufar Verjee

I joined CARE International UK in September 2016 as global Director for Women’s Economic Empowerment. Women's Economic Empowerment is one of CARE's four global outcomes with the goal of economically empowering 30 million women by 2020. As a feminist, I am hugely motivated to work with colleagues throughout the CARE family to achieve this ambitious goal.

Before joining CARE, I worked on economic empowerment in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. At Kraft Foods and Cadbury I helped promote ethically sourced products with their customers. As Commercial and Marketing Director for non-profit, Twin Trading, I developed the business case for empowering women coffee farmers with corporate partners. At the Fairtrade Foundation, I was responsible for partnerships with UK retailers and implementing Fairtrade’s multi-stakeholder campaign to unlock greater empowerment opportunities for women and men farmers, and workers, in global value chains.

Email: Verjee@careinternational.org

Twitter: @NilufarVerjee