On International Women’s Day (8 March 2018), I’m proud to announce the launch of our Empowering Women, Educating Children campaign. It aims to empower women to support themselves and their children into education in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan - but we need your support.
Every day that goes by, more women and children’s futures slip away. Around 500 million women worldwide don’t know how to read or write. And 264 million children are out of education.
Poverty is one of the barriers to education, especially in families where children are needed to work and mothers are unable to contribute financially to the household income. It’s households likes these that Children in Crisis targets through its educational, vocational training programmes and local savings and loans schemes.
We want to expand our range of educational, vocational and savings and loans schemes that help isolated women in rural and remote regions to become more confident and financially independent.
One of our projects - the Village Savings and Loans Association model is very simple community based model where only the resources of the community are used. We don’t come with any external resources. We only come with the methodology. It’s a very simple savings and credit scheme where a group of 25 people come together and spend nine months first of all saving whatever money they can then taking out small loans up to the value of three times what they saved. And then paying back those loans with a small rate of interest.
What we’ve found is that in a very resource-poor area, this very simple community model makes a huge difference to families who have no other way of accessing either credit or savings - where we work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the high plateau in South Kivu - there are no banks, there is no micro-finance, there is no real alternative. So this simple mechanism gives people, and women in particular, the opportunity to have money in their hand that they wouldn’t otherwise have - 70 percent of our savings group is made up of women.
This money is often used to help them become self-sufficient through setting up small businesses to increase their income, send their children to school and cover emergency medical costs.
Next week, I’m really excited to be going back to the Democratic Republic of Congo to continue working with women from rural and remote communities . If we can raise money we’ll be able to expand our Village Savings and Loans Associations from 90 to 150. This will help to empower and give financial independence to 2,625 women, ensuring around 18,000 children can go to school.