Why does it matter whether international humanitarian organizations like Lutheran World Relief work to empower women living in poverty around the world? How does it help? Here are five reasons.
1. Most of the People Living in Poverty Around the World Are Women
Seventy percent of the world's poor are women.
There are many reasons for this. Women spend twice as much time as men taking part in unpaid labor (such as household tasks). (Source) In developing nations, they don't have the same access to land and productive assets, such as credit to purchase quality seeds, tools, fertilizer and other necessary items to build strong agricultural livelihoods.
2. When Women Farmers Produce More, Everyone Eats More
Women farmers make up 40 percent of the agricultural workforce in developing nations, yet they own less than one percent of the land. When women have the same amount of land as men, crop yields can increase as much as ten percent. Further, the United States Agency for International Development has predicted that investing in women farmers could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 to 150 million. (Source)
3. Investing in Women Has a Ripple Effect that Strengthens Whole Countries
When families earn a sustainable income, they can meet their families basic needs. Once families meet their basic needs, they can focus on things like education for their children. Educating girls has a powerful effect on the national economies of developing nations. When 10 percent more girls go to school, a country's gross domestic product (GDP) rises by three percent. (Source)
4. Empowered Women Help Sustain Development Gains
When women living in poverty earn income, they reinvest most of it into their families. As a result, access to education, health care and other essential needs are met. But that's not all. Infant mortality rates go down, agricultural productivity rises, population growth slows and local economies expand. (Source) These kinds of improvement work together with the kind of long-term sustainable development work LWR does to create lasting impact.
5. When Women Use Their Voices, They Speak Out to End Poverty
When women are educated and empowered, they participate in the decision making processes that affect their lives and their families' well-being. When women are included, they are a driving force against poverty, not only improving their own household incomes but also helping other women and families gain access to land, jobs and financial resources. (Source)
Article by Nikki Massie, Lutheran World Relief's Staff Writer