BRAC (10 Countries)


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Field: microfinance, social entrepreneurship, health care, nutrition, education – an holistic approach

Where: Haiti, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Afghanistan Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh

BRAC is a non-governmental development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor to bring about change in their own lives. Started in Bangladesh in 1972, it focuses on work with poor women, who are the worst affected by poverty.

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Why Invest In Women?


Clinton Global Initiative: "Women are the world’s most underserved—and undervalued—resource. At present, they make up 70% of the world’s poor and earn only 10% of its income, despite producing over half its food. Studies suggest that if women’s paid employment rates were raised to the same levels as men’s, per capita income in some of our fastest-growing economies would rise 20 percent by 2030. Studies also show that a woman is apt to invest her income in her family. Eighty cents of every dollar she earns goes toward health care, nutrition, and housing for her kids.

"We believe that a community can only reach its potential by involving everyone in its social and economic life. That’s why we build programs to empower women and girls, and why we focus on expanding access to education; expanding economic opportunity; and providing critical health care to young mothers and their newborns. Our goal is to lift millions of women out of poverty—and with them, families and whole communities."    See more at: 


2015 why women markkula center for applied ethics

From Santa Clara University
Economic Empowerment of Women

» Click to view article online. 


Published in The New York Times - By SOMINI SENGUPTA, FEB. 12, 2014

U.N. Report Says Progress for Women Is Unequal

UNITED NATIONS — Twenty years after a landmark United Nations summit meeting in Cairo called on countries around the world to allow women greater control over their health and destiny, women worldwide have fewer children, are less likely to die of childbirth and have made great strides in literacy, according to a major report released Wednesday by the world body. 

» Click to view article online.
 Click to download printable PDF. 


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Vital Voices: “There is a direct correlation between investment in women and girls and poverty alleviation, a lessening of government corruption and greater general prosperity. Women are powerful agents of economic growth and social change.”


President of the World Bank: “Putting women at the center is smart economics.” April 2013.                                                           

World Bank Report: "Women's empowerment and the promotion of gender equality are key to achieving sustainable development. Greater gender equality can enhance economic efficiency and improve other development outcomes by removing barriers that prevent women from having the same access as men to human resource endowments, rights, and economic opportunities. Giving women access to equal opportunities allows them to emerge as social and economic actors, influencing and shaping more inclusive policies. Improving women’s status also leads to more investment in their children’s education, health, and overall wellbeing." 

"If girls just completed one higher level of education, the total value of productivity generated over the work life of those girls is equivalent to nearly one year’s GDP (Burundi)."

International Center for Research on Women: “Understanding and Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment”: There is increasing recognition that economically empowering women is essential both to realize women's rights and to achieve broader development goals such as economic growth, poverty reduction, health, education and welfare.

“In the last five years, a broad range of organizations have committed themselves to the goal of women's economic empowerment. These organizations realize that economically empowering women is a win-win that can benefit not only women, but society more broadly. It promotes women's ability to achieve their rights and well being while also reducing household poverty, increasing economic growth and productivity, and increasing efficiency.

“Research has found strong reasons to emphasize women's economic empowerment in development programs:

  1. Economic empowerment is one of the most powerful routes for women to achieve their potential and advance their rights.
  2. Since women make up the majority of the world's poor, meeting poverty-reduction goals requires addressing women and their economic empowerment.
  3. Discrimination against women is economically inefficient. National economies lose out when a substantial part of the population cannot compete equitably or realize its full potential.
  4. Working with women makes good business sense. When women have the right skills and opportunities, they can help businesses and markets grow.
  5. Women who are economically empowered contribute more to their families, societies and national economies. It has been shown that women invest extra income in their children, providing a route to sustainable development. 

KIVA: “Women’s hands perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the world’s food, invest 90% of their income in their families YET they bear 70% of the world’s poverty, earn 10% of the world’s income and own 1% of the world’s land.”


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Putting money in the hands of women can have a positive long-term effect on the whole family, but women still suffer more from poverty than men. Women comprise 70 percent of the world’s poorest people and own only 1 percent of the titled land, according to a U.N. report. They suffer not only from unequal access to education and training, but also from discrimination by their employers. The majority of women earn on average about three-fourths of the pay that men receive for doing the same work, outside of the agricultural sector, in both developed and developing countries.

But if greater income equality was achieved across gender lines, this could help decrease poverty through the generations. Studies have indicated that when women hold assets or gain income, the money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently their children are healthier. For every dollar a woman earns, she invests 80 cents in her family. Men, on the other hand, invest around 30 cents and are more likely to squander money on alcohol and other vices.

» Click to view video of comments by Hillary Clinton, Zainab Salbi, George Rupp and Mary Ellen Iskenderian. 




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One of the most effective ways to fight poverty and bolster poor communities is through investing in education, particularly that of girls. Schooling not only can be a precursor for women and girls to stand up to the injustices they witness, it can also help foster economic growth and stability.

However, today more than 75 million primary school-age children are not in school. More than half of these children are girls and 75 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Of all the primary-school age girls globally, 20 percent are not in school, compared to 16 percent of boys in this age group. That’s 1-in-5 eligible girls worldwide who aren’t going to primary school.

The situation for girls in poor communities is worse, as they are more likely than boys to be deprived of an education. There are plenty of reasons for this discrepancy, including families wanting a girl’s help in the house, the cost of tuition and the fact that girls tend to drop out of school at higher rates. When schools are far away, parents may also hesitate to allow their daughters to walk the long distances alone.

But education is vital. Though it's hard to prove the impact of girls’ education statistically, over and over it has been shown that this investment can have a ripple effect of opportunity that impacts generations. With primary and secondary school education can come increased job opportunities and higher wages. Girls who pursue secondary education are also at a significantly lower risk of engaging in crime or falling victim to human trafficking. Educated women have also been shown to marry later and have fewer children.

» Click to view video of comments by Zainab Salbi, Carolyn Miles and Sakeena Jacobi.