Investing in the Future of Women: How two local organizations use microfinance and entrepreneurship to promote justice, create jobs and opportunity for women
On Saturday, August 27th, 4:30 to 7pm, Oikocredit USA and Empowered Women International are teaming up to celebrate Women’s Equality Day (August 26) by presenting their work to empower women and expand their participation in the marketplace and the public sphere through microfinance and entrepreneurship. The event is free of charge, and will take place at Convergence at 1801 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302.
For over 36 years, Oikocredit has contributed to the empowerment of 29.3 million people, mostly women, through investing in microfinance and sustainable income-generating prjects for the poorest of the working poor. Empowered Women International (EWI) provides entrepreneurship training, mentoring and income-generating programs for immigrant, refugee and low-income women artists, artisans and creative entrepreneurs in the greater Washington DC Metro area to bolster their participation in the marketplace and civil life.
The event will feature presentations by Sharlene Brown, National Director of Oikocredit USA and a long-time practitioner in the social empowerment of women through microfinance, and Marga Fripp, EWI Executive Director and Founder, a social entrepreneur and life-long activist for women’s empowerment both here and in her native country of Romania. Brown and Fripp will present information about ways individuals can get involved as investors in women’s empowerment.
The event will also present stories of women who have been empowered through EWI’s work as testaments to the benefits and impact of investing in women’s equality and public inclusion. Refreshments will be served and there will be opportunities to purchase art produced by EWI’s local artists and creative entrepreneurs.
Ninety-one years ago, on August 26, 1920, the ratification of the 19th Amendment to our Constitution was completed, guaranteeing women the right to vote and renewing our commitment to equality and justice. Even though we’ve made extraordinary progress, women are far from achieving true equality.
Women worldwide continually experience lesser access to healthcare, education, lower rates of literacy, and a systematic exclusion from public life. Exclusion from public life means women can’t work, earn an income, or contribute to decision-making in their families and communities. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, women in South and Southeast Asia perform 60% of agricultural labor but own 10% of the land.
In Malawi and Senegal, 70% of men make the decisions about their wives’ healthcare, leading to increased vulnerability to disease and maternal complications, according to the Population Reference Bureau. The reversal of that exclusion would have a drastically positive effect. Study after study shows that women invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities than men. One study showed that in Brazil, the likelihood of a child’s survival increased by 20% when the mother controlled household income. What’s more, investing in women is good for the macro-economy — a recent report by the FAO asserts that allowing women the same access as ment to agricultural resources could increase production on women’s farms by 20 to 30%.
The event is free of charge and open to the public: Register Today!
Founded in 1975, Oikocredit is an international cooperative microfinance investment vehicle that seeks to empower the poor with credit. Today, Oikocredit is one of the world’s largest sources of private funding to the microfinance sector and a provider of credit to trade cooperatives, fair trade organizations and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the developing world. Oikocredit promotes global justice by empowering disadvantaged people with credit. It reaches more than 28 million people through 863 partners in 71 countries.
As a responsible investor, Oikocredit supports the adoption of client protection and transparent pricing principles, and encourages poverty assessment by its investees and project partners. In recognition of its strong commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards, Oikocredit was awarded CGAP’s inaugural ESG award in October 2010. In 2011, Oikocredit joined the United Nations Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance as an inaugural signatory, reaffirming/emphasizing its commitment to expanding access to affordable and responsible financial products and services for poor and vulnerable populations.
More at http://www.oikocreditusa.org
About Empowered Women International
Founded in 2002, Empowered Women International (EWI) is the only non-profit organization in Northern Virginia and the DC-Metro area that focuses on art to empower and bolster immigrant women’s participation in the market and the civic life of our community. EWI helps low-income immigrant and refugee women integrate, participate as new citizens and become self-sufficient by employing their creativity, skills, and entrepreneurial spirit to develop new career paths and start up businesses. For its work, EWI has received numerous awards, including the Rising Star Finalist – Arts Build Communities Award in 2011, the Alex Arts Awards by the City of Alexandria Commission for the Arts, and the Enterprise Award in the 2008 Catalogue for Philanthropy.
More at http://www.ewint.org