Women account for 70% of the world’s poorest population. But they may hold the key to ending extreme poverty.
The Current Imbalance
Yet women receive only 10% of the world’s income, and own less than 1% of the world’s property.
However, recent studies show how women across the globe can lift themselves from this unjust situation – and how, in doing so, they can contribute to the movement against world poverty.
Micro-Loans for Macro-Benefit
Microcredit involves loaning a small amount of money directly to a struggling individual. The borrower uses the loan to start self-employment projects. Profits from her small business fuel her success. She then pay back the loan, freeing this money for other loans to help others lift themselves from poverty.
Women already constitute 80% of the total 70 million microcredit borrowers in the world, and with good reason: studies show that they have superior repayment rates, invest more productively, and are more careful than their male counterparts. Furthermore, when a woman saves money, she is more likely to spend it on her family - and thriving families lead to thriving communities.
In some cases, success really is that simple. After Marinela Castillo of La Paz nearly lost her baking business in a hurricane, a loan of just a few hundred dollars allowed her to repair her oven. Today, she bakes 1,000 loaves a day.
In São Paolo, seamstress Francisca Luciavello struggled for years with outdated equipment. After receiving a $350 loan, she was able to buy a new sewing machine. Her business was soon profitable enough for her to hire three new assistants.
The story of Afghani Kamela Sediqi is particularly inspiring. In 1996, she was able to start her own tailoring business using a loan of only $100. For years, she saved her profits, she had $50,000. With this, she began a construction company now employs over 200 Afghani women, is involved with several public works projects, and generates yearly revenue of $28,000.
How You Can Help
However, by themselves, even these organizations are not enough. To truly achieve the end of extreme poverty for millions of the world's poorest women and for their families, we require government action. Here's a letter you can send to your congressman today.
In 2006, The Economist strikingly claimed that women
are “arguably the most powerful engine of global growth.” All they need is
our fuel. And even this need is only temporary - given the starting loan,
they can work with us to leave extreme poverty in our dust.
by Kerry Dagastino, Hearts & Minds volunteer