Working towards gender equality

Empowering women

MicroLoan Foundation is committed to working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 5 calls for gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by 2030. This is something MicroLoan Foundation works to achieve.

Women make up 70% of the world’s poor, and are often excluded from accessing the means that could alleviate this.

People living in poverty have limited access to resources, this leaves them unable to improve their lives without support. For women, there are often additional barriers to their progression. They face double discrimination because of their poverty and their gender

A recently published report by the United Nations International Labour Organisation  stated that reducing the gap between male and female employment by 25% could add $5.8 trillion to the global economy.

MicroLoan Foundation focuses on supporting women to become entrepreneurs, contributing to closing this gap.

The report also highlighted that more had to be done to break down gendered attitudes towards roles in society and in the workplace.

MicroLoan aims to do just this.

In countries where women and girls are often marginalised, we are helping to empower women in their homes, businesses and communities. They become role models for other women and for the next generation, including their children.

What are the factors that contribute to the majority of the poor being women?

Taking care of others

On average, globally, women in developing countries shoulder the greatest burden of unpaid work. Compared to men, women in sub-Saharan Africa spend three times longer on household chores and caregiving. Social norms, unequal pay and discrimination in the workplace are all contributing factors to this unequal burden. However, the extra time women spend on unpaid work holds back their educational and professional development. This means that women remain more reliant on family members, normally men, to provide financial income. This reinforces the pattern that men do paid work while women remain in the home doing unpaid work.

Family units of 12 or more are not uncommon, and the responsibility for caring for all these people tends to fall to the woman as the primary carer. Orphaned children, as well as siblings, parents, grandparents or other relatives who are too old or ill to work, may become included in the family group. This puts an immense pressure on already scarce resources, and it is often women who bear the burden of this pressure. With MicroLoan’s assistance, our clients can increase their household income, meaning they can afford to buy the basic needs and provide for their family.

MicroLoan empowers women to become entrepreneurs. We provide women with the resources and skills they need to set up their own businesses, empowering them economically and socially.This allows  them to become financially independent.

Culture and tradition

In many countries, when a husband dies, his wife inherits nothing, so she may lose her house, all of her possessions and the assets of any business they built together.

This is exactly what happened to Christabel. Christabel is a widow from Kafue, Zambia. When her husband died in 2012, his relatives took all of their possessions, including the house. Neither her late husband’s relatives, nor her own relatives, helped her after his death. Christabel was struggling to feed her family, unable to afford to provide three meals a day and her children often went to bed hungry.

Christabel has been working with MicroLoan Foundation for two years. She now has a business selling tomatoes meaning her children are well-fed and don’t miss school. She has also been able to build up some savings.

Access to finance

In sub-Saharan Africa, 145 million women are unbanked. Lack of education and low literacy levels mean that many women are financially excluded, and with no collateral to speak of, banks are unwilling to do business with them.

MicroLoan Foundation does not take collateral and offers training that caters for all levels of literacy, incorporating dancing and singing into training sessions.

So, why women?

At MicroLoan we know our solution works. Investing in women makes the biggest difference to the most people. By helping women to help themselves, our work is having a lasting impact on the lives of women, children and families in sub-Saharan Africa.