Based on over 70 years of poverty-fighting and humanitarian action experience, CARE has defined an overarching approach for all our programmes: to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and social injustice to bring lasting change to the lives of poor and vulnerable people. The focus of our actions is determined from analysing the underlying causes of poverty and drivers of change at all levels, to help us to identify the most impactful courses of action in line with CARE’s vision and expertise, alongside our partners and allies.CARE prioritises three ways of addressing the main underlying causes of poverty and social injustice that we encounter all around the world: gender inequality; poor governance and unequal power relations; and humanitarian crises and climate change. We address these underlying causes of poverty and social injustice by strengthening gender equality and women’s voice, promoting inclusive governance, and increasing resilience.
In 2016, CARE and partners helped more than 2.7 million women with information and tools to challenge inequality and promote equitable enjoyment of rights, roles and opportunities. Last year, 27% of all CARE’s projects included specific actions to promote gender equality, and a further 45% of our projects were gender-sensitive, with activities responding to the different needs of women and girls, and men and boys.
Based on CARE’s commitment to the rights of all people to live free from poverty, we promote the empowerment of women and girls, and engage with men and boys, to transform unequal power relationships and address gender inequality. We place particular emphasis on strengthening the voice of women and girls and enabling them to influence the decisions that affect their lives. We support women’s struggles to achieve their full and equal human rights, including girls’ right to education. This includes balancing practical, daily, individual achievements with long-term efforts to challenge unequal social rules and institutions. CARE supports local actors, particularly women, to build trust within and between communities. We seek to amplify women’s voices at higher decision-making levels. We also focus on preventing sexual and gender-based violence and provide support and counselling to women survivors.
Poor governance is a key cause of poverty. We believe this situation will not change unless poor people are empowered to hold public authorities to account for how they make decisions and allocate public funds. Inclusive governance ensures that governments and public bodies listen to, and respond to, the concerns of the marginalized people and their organisations. This involves the empowerment of citizens to take part in local decision-making processes. Good governance leads to more effective, positive and lasting outcomes over a longer term. CARE promotes inclusive governance in three key ways; by empowering poor and excluded people to know and act on their rights and represent their interests; by influencing those in power, such as governments, traditional leaders in the private sector, to be more responsible, responsive and accountable; and by brokering linkages and convening spaces which enable effective and inclusive relations and negotiation between the two. CARE supports local communities to mobilize their voice and demand for improvement and encourage people, especially women, to participate in local institutions.
The villagers in Botlagari Union in Bangladesh used to receive low wages but CARE and partners helped them to negotiate fairer wages from landowners and employers. These communities were also able to lobby their local government to lease them land to grow crops on. When they had approached the government as individuals they were easily turned away, but as a group they have been able to secure resources. They are now respected members of their communities, able to speak in public and negotiate successfully with much more powerful people. Strong community organisations, like the community council in Botlagari, also help to make governments and public bodies more accountable by ensuring they deliver the vital services they are responsible for, like water, health and education.
In a context of increased unpredictability from climate change, disasters and conflict, CARE strengthens poor people’s capacity to anticipate, absorb and adapt to shocks, manage growing risks, address underlying causes of vulnerability and transform their lives in response to new hazards and opportunities. This enables CARE to better integrate its humanitarian, disaster risk reduction, social protection, climate change adaptation, natural resource management and other development actions. When communities are resilient the chances of moving out of poverty are greatly enhanced.
In the Sahel region of West Africa, CARE and partners are helping communities recover from crisis, droughts and floods. We work to prevent disasters and food crises through promoting environmental sustainability and empowering people economically so they are better prepared for difficult times. We build resilience against climate change by working with local communities to reduce the impact of climate change such as adapted farming methods and growing drought-resistant crops.