Around the world, it is women and girls who are disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination. Imagine: women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours. They earn ten percent of the world’s income. Yet they own just one percent of the world’s property. Often, women and girls are not allowed to make decisions about their household’s income, or tradition and culture forbid them to leave their homes.
In other words, half of the population in some countries cannot contribute to their family’s and community’s economic development. A great resource goes untapped. But women are an important part of the solutions needed to truly overcome poverty. They play a key role in navigating their family and their community to a better life.
Our experience shows us that when equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help their families and entire communities escape poverty.
It’s a simple formula: empowerment is the total sum of changes needed for a woman to realize her full human rights. Empowerment is not just about giving women training or a loan. Empowerment is more than that. It means that relationships and social structures that shape the lives of women and girls must change.
Women’s empowerment can only be achieved when we include men and boys. Men are often those who define and keep women within their boundaries. But when we engage with them they realize that their wives’ empowerment benefits the whole family.
Promoting gender equality and empowering women is one of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For CARE, it’s the key to lifting entire families out of poverty – and it defines our programs worldwide.