Women’s economic empowerment

Sékongo Dieneba - the shea butter producer from Ivory Coast

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Women and girls make up the majority of the poorest people in the world today

Decent work infographic

2.8 billion people – nearly half the world’s population – survive on less than $2 a day. And 1.2 billion of them live on less than $1.25 – that’s about £1 – a day.

The majority of them are women and girls.

These figures are unacceptable – but actually, we’ve made great progress in fighting poverty in recent years. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty has fallen across Asia, Latin America and Africa since 1990.

But about 1 in 5 people in developing countries still live on less than £1 a day. And in sub-Saharan Africa, 48% of the population live on less than £1 a day.

But we can change that. Watch this short video about the Skilling for Change project in Rwanda to find out how empowering women can unlock prosperity.

So how can we make even more progress, and make it faster?

The answer is to empower women to build better livelihoods, earn more income, and create businesses that provide jobs and boost local economies. Because when women earn, everyone benefits: not just the women, but their families, their communities, and the local economy.


Sékongo Dieneba, a 45 year old, shea butter producer from Ivory Coast, is just one example. Business is growing and Sékongo has recently quadrupled her production output. A mother of six and  the main breadwinner,  her income pays for the children’s schooling and supplies. She says: “I don't want my children to suffer like I did when I was a child. I want my children to succeed. I want my business to grow.”

Sékongo is part of a women’s saving group in her village, she explains: “I’m very proud to work together in our group. Before, we each worked at home alone, but now we are a team, we do everything together. It’s thanks to my group that I feel we have really advanced.”

The group is based on CARE’s Village Savings & Loans Association model through which members invest small weekly amounts, and manage the group themsleves. Group members can take out loans and repay with small amounts of interest, enabling the collective fund to grow. Sékongo explains: “The first loan I had from the group was 10,000 FCFA (15 EUR) which I used to buy the shea which I sold. After I had paid off my loan, I took another loan to strengthen my business.” She adds: “Being integrated in a group is important, it is the group that will support you and enable you to grow faster – that benefits everyone. Thanks to CARE that we have been able to organize ourselves well. We are now more aware of our individual and collective abilities.”

 

By the year 2030, we aim to have helped 50 million women like Sékongo have more equitable access to and control over economic resources and opportunities – giving them the tools and resources they need to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.