Women’s empowerment breaks the poverty cycle
In the developing world, women continue to have less access to economic opportunity, property ownership and decision-making, while being more likely to be victims of domestic violence.
The empowerment of women requires identifying and redressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives.
The empowerment of women is one of the major driving forces to reducing poverty and increasing household incomes. Increases in income are consistently used to send children to school, access proper health services, improve family living standards and provide for household needs.
Men have enormous power over many aspects of women’s lives, and will sometimes impose their choices through coercion or violence.
Investing in women produces a strong return as poor women spend 90% of their income on family well-being
Reaching men with messages that promote gender-equitable attitudes and bring about positive behaviour change at the household and community level is key to enhancing the status of women and addressing entrenched generational poverty.
Through close collaboration with our local development partners, enhanced economic opportunity for women remained a cornerstone of our women’s empowerment strategy.
- Subsistence farmers – 55% of whom are women - had increased access to agricultural extension services, exposure to improved farming methods and quality agricultural inputs
- Farmers' household incomes have increased by more than 40%
- Increased agricultural production and productivity has helped over 80% of participating households to move towards food security
- Women have accessed business training, small loans and financial counselling to establish or expand their small businesses
- Other women have been trained in skills such as hairdressing, tailoring and beauty therapy, and are either gaining employment or starting their own small businesses
Much work has been done to educate men on the benefit and value of treating women equally. Though some are still resistant, a demonstrable change is taking place in community attitudes with women taking on leadership roles and participating in household decisions.
8938 people (including 3,540 men and boys) were exposed to awareness raising campaigns and activities highlighting issues of violence against women, including harmful cultural practices.
In some communities, measurable change around family planning is slowly taking place with both men and women now acknowledging the value of limiting family size as a mechanism towards poverty reduction.
Gender-based violence is an area where much work still needs to be done to change some of the detrimental socio-cultural and religious practices, attitudes and behaviours, that lead to the abuse and denigration of women and girls.
Josephine, a mother of four children, struggled to meet the basic needs of her family when her husband became unable to work due to ill health.
Her meagre income meant that sometimes the family only had one meal – or no meal - each day, and they could not afford the costs of their children’s education.
“I was very devastated, lonely and always unhappy, especially when I was unsure where I could find the money to provide meals for my family," Josephine said. Out of financial desperation, Josephine’s eldest daughter was forced to become involved in the commercial sex trade.
Fortunately, Josephine and her daughter were introduced to INA’s ‘Preventing the Sexual Exploitation of Children’ project by a community member, after an awareness-raising forum in one of the project communities.
Through awareness-raising events and programs in schools, community groups and the mass media, this project has reached thousands of people and generated much conversation and positive action against child sexual abuse.
For Josephine, this project meant that her daughter was able to leave her situation of exploitation, obtain rehabilitation through counselling, and accept assistance with her decision to return to study. Josephine also received training to start a small scale jewellery business.
Two weeks later, she was able to produce her first range of jewellery for sale. With the profits Josephine is now making from her jewellery business, she is able to afford the basic needs of her family and ensure that her children are attending school.