Women are the linchpins of society. In the words of LCHR President and applied anthropologist Kathryn Cameron Porter, “Men are interested in the continuity of governments, while women are interested in the continuity of generations.” Almost everywhere in the world, women provide family structure and stability, act as the primary caregivers and providers for their children, and create the backbone of cultural life. Women’s participation in all aspects of civil affairs is vital to creating flourishing civilizations.
Despite women’s many important roles, all across the globe, no single group suffers more persecution, is more likely to endure poverty and violence, or to face starvation than women. In almost every developing country women are relegated to second class citizenship. In certain regions of the world they are denied the right to participate in government, operate businesses, and even such basic freedoms as leaving the house without a male escort and driving a car. Women are subject to such abominable practices as female genital mutilation, systematic rape in times of ethnic conflict, honor killings, human trafficking – and the list goes on. Extreme poverty, however, is sometimes just as deadly for women as violence against them.
LCHR is focused on projects that promote the equality of women through education, training and financial assistance. While our organization works to educate foreign governments on women’s issues, we also work with women directly to give them to tools they need to succeed in changing their societies.
Microfinance may be the single most effective tool to help the world’s neediest women improve their lives. Giving women small loans to start micro enterprises also means giving them economic independence and freedom from shackling poverty.
Microfinance works because poor women have a powerful work ethic, but face numerous obstacles to financial independence. They want to be able to provide for their children, but they aren’t considered “bankable.” Without microfinance initiatives, they are never given the chance to break the vicious cycle of poverty in which they are trapped. With as little capital as $100, these women can buy the supplies they need to start a successful enterprise, which can in turn dramatically improve their family’s quality of life. Microfinance provides economic sustenance for the world’s poorest women, and it also gives them a strong sense of self-worth and empowerment that they have never experienced before. Micro-entrepreneurs not only flourish when given small loans, but they faithfully pay them back. Ninety-seven percent of ACCION International’s loan recipients repay their loans in full. Other well known microfinance institutions like FINCA International have similarly successful repayment rates.
LCHR is developing microfinance projects to help women improve the quality of their lives as well as the lives of their children.
- To read more about the horrific act of honor killings, download our white paper, “A Twisted Sense of Honor“.