Global Program for Equality

Women and girls around the world are disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination. In all regions, women spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work, but are often not allowed to make decisions that affect their own lives. Women from the poorest communities worldwide reveal enormous potential. Despite difficult circumstances, they can successfully change their own – and their family’s – future.

Through H&M Foundation’s global program with CARE, almost 270,000 women were supported 2014-2020. The success of the women has been astounding, with their daily enterprise earnings increasing by an average of 91% across all countries.

In Phase 1 of the Global Program with CARE (2014-2017), reaching 100,000 women, we learnt that when women have access to the right skills and tools, their confidence increases to take on leadership roles and take the leap to become entrepreneurs. Regardless of their background.

In addition, when women have earnings on their own, they tend to invest a bigger proportion of their money in their families and communities than men do. When women benefit, everyone benefits.

We want the world’s poorest women to move from survival to success by supporting them in the development of their businesses.

FROM LOW TO HIGH MARGIN

In the second phase of the Global Program, we reached 170,000 women from low-income communities in seven developing countries worldwide. Through the program these women were equipped with what’s needed to become successful and empowered entrepreneurs, and to further develop and grow their businesses. By supporting the women with further skills training and other relevant tools, they have been able to go from running businesses with low margins to start to increase their margins. This means they are able to support their families and even elevate whole communities out of poverty, not least by employing other local women to lift them out of poverty too. Entrepreneurship is also empowering and through the program CARE saw a 33% increase in women taking up leadership positions within their communities. When given better access to finance and capital, women are also strong savers and borrowers.

THE GENDER ASPECT

Another crucial aspect of them program has been involving men and boys and other local stakeholders to change gender norms. As women have taken on increasing responsibilities with their businesses, 72% still receive no help at all from male family members in the household. Not only are women now running businesses – many providing employment to other women – they continue to do all the childcare, cooking and other household chores.

Through the program CARE saw a 33% increase in women taking up leadership positions within their communities.

COMPONENTS FOR SUCCESS

As part of the program, CARE identified five essential components for successful enterprise development among women living in low-income communities.

These are:

  1. Strengthening skills
  2. Facilitating access to finance and capital
  3. Encouraging the power of groups and networks
  4. Improving the business environment
  5. Engaging men and boys

On a global level, CARE has also created a global, evidence-based report – Women Mean Business –  which will showcases the economic and social value of investing in enterprise development with women from low-income communities.

The impact of this program has gone far beyond earning an income. When women are encouraged to rely on their inner strength, they start making decisions within households and communities and take more control of their lives. They are a catalyst for positive change in their societies and change the world for generations to come.


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