Today, those sentiments are slowly changing. By serving as a bridge between informal savings groups and banks, health centers, schools, and agricultural extension services, we are helping women make better decisions about food use, nutritional practices, and spending. Our goal is to reduce poverty rates by strengthening asset-management skills, which would give women a greater voice in their communities. “Gender dialogue sessions” that we host are also strengthening family bonds.
During each of my field visits, I have been amazed at how these efforts are affecting women’s lives. On one recent trip, I met Rasmata, a young mother who told me that thanks to the safety net of her savings group, she was managing to support her family despite her husband’s emigration abroad, her father’s recent death, and a lingering drought. She was diversifying her income, managing her finances, and even adopting climate-smart farming techniques. The best part was that she described herself as a “hard-working, respectful, rigorous, and ambitious woman.”
Those are adjectives that women everywhere, regardless of their financial situation or education, deserve to ascribe to themselves. So this week, as the world celebrates the incredible progress that women have made on the long march to parity, I will be thinking about women like Rasmata, who have accomplished so much despite having so little.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2016.