Why do we need to invest in women and girls to fight poverty?
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan argues that:
"There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health -- including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended."
The return on a country's investment in its women is enormous. Investment in girls' education, especially secondary education, yields high returns in the form of increased wages. Greater access to credit and other financial services increases women's mobility and increases household consumption. Women in employment also enjoy greater status in their family and community, contributing to their overall empowerment.
Educated, employed and economically productive women are more likely to use health care systems and have fewer, healthier children. Studies have shown that educated and employed women are at a much lower risk of HIV, maternal deaths and post-natal complications. They are also more likely to take advantage of other health services such as reproductive health services, testing for HIV and TB, and family planning. Educated women are also more likely to send their own children to school.
This video from the Girl Effect looks at the changes to society that can be brought about when we focus on girls' the message is -- invest in a girl and she will do the rest.
Source: Results UK News and Views
The majority of FFW USA Microcredit Program borrowers are single mothers. According to 2000 US Census Bureau data, San Diego County has 78,423 households headed by single mothers, of which 29% are living below the poverty line, while San Diego Association of Government data shows that since 1990 the county has produced 8 times more low paying jobs ($24,547 median wage) than high-paying ones ($79,764 median wage). The Center for Housing Policy data shows that to afford a typical 2-bedroom apartment in San Diego (monthly rent of $1205), a family would need to make 3 times the minimum wage.
FFW USA Microcredit Program establishes loan groups in the poorest communities of the region, often those where refugee and immigrant women have settled. San Diego County has been designated by the California Department of Social Services as a "Refugee Impacted County" and is home to significant populations of refugees and immigrants from East Africa, Southeast Asia, South and Central America and Mexico. Through its partner agencies that serve these communities, the Foundation for Women receives referrals for potential borrowers.
The above statistics were drawn from the The Economic Self-Sufficiency and Security of Women in San Diego County study, commissioned in October 2009 by Women Give San Diego and provided to FFW by WGSD founder and FFW board member Jan Tuttleman.