International Day of Rural Women 2019: Change Begins with Her
Our mission is rooted in the belief that change begins with her. In some of the most underdeveloped and remote corners of the world, women and girls play a crucial role in the health and well being of their families and communities. Despite their critical role, women continue to lack access to basic resources such as safe water, healthcare, education, and economic opportunity.
On International Day of Rural Women we join our global community in calling for “Sustainable infrastructure, services, and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” This year, UN Women is calling for “better public services, including healthcare, education, childcare and shelters, on which millions of rural women depend; and laws, policies and budgets to improve their livelihoods and well-being.”
Investing In Rural Women
Women living in rural areas make up a quarter of the world’s population. In addition to their traditional roles as caregivers, women are responsible for growing food, strengthening economies, and building climate resilience. The challenges they face in the midst of crippling poverty are unimaginable. And yet they move forward.
Opportunities are few and far between. And even when they do exist, it’s difficult to take advantage of when you spend hours every day collecting water, or if you are sick—or your child is. That’s why our innovative CHAMPS program works to make communities healthy by offering opportunities for a better, healthier life.
Women are the key to creating a prosperous society, that’s why we keep them at the center of our work. When we invest in their health and well being, they have the opportunities they need to succeed and thrive. And when mothers thrive, so too do their children. Economically empowered women can feed their children, send them to school, and seek quality healthcare when they are sick.
Our Village Saving and Loans programs in Peru, Haiti, Kenya, and Zambia support women with training and loans to start gardens, raise livestock, and other enterprises. In addition to promoting income generation that allow them to support their families, women achieve greater autonomy and improved self-esteem.
When we invest in women, we can change the world.
Meet Pamela in Zambia
Pamela and her family live in Mwandi.
Mwandi is an area where most people live in widely scattered mud huts. Lack of water affects families’ ability to grow their own food and sell their crops to generate additional income—critical in a locality with very little formal-sector employment. Health facilities lack emergency transport, basic medical supplies, competently trained healthcare staff, and a well-staffed, well-supplied pharmacy, and these facilities are difficult to access.
Clean water is challenging to access. Without it, women and children—especially girls—spend their days traveling to and from distant boreholes. For 85 percent of the population, water sources are contaminated, and most people do not treat it before use. Many schools and health facilities have neither safe water nor adequate sanitation.
As elsewhere in Zambia, poverty disproportionately affects women. Their access to assets such as land and loans is limited; they must rely on husbands or a male family member, if they have no husband, to pay for essentials. Women are not encouraged to earn money, just because they are women.
Five years ago, Pamela joined the Village Savings and Loan Association in the remote and impoverished Zambian town of Mwandi, where she lives with her husband and four children.
That decision transformed her.
Today, in an environment where so many women are dispirited and without hope, Pamela and the women of her savings group are filled with optimism for the future. This past year, Pamela built a small shop a short walk from home, a place everyone in her community can come to for basic supplies. Everything she earns, she invests back into the health and education of her children.
“Look what I can do now! After saving with CMMB, I have a shop that brings money directly to me. I can feed my children and pay their school fees.”
Women working together can lift a whole community out of poverty. CMMB stands with them in their efforts. We are grateful to our supporters who make it possible for us to help women like Pamela take the first step.
And this is just one story, of one women, from this past year, whose life has been impacted by the generosity of our supporters. We are excited to see how Pamela inspires others in her family and community.