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How Investing in Moms Can End World Poverty

by Laura  |  3534 views  |  3 comments  |        Rate this now! 

As mothers, we would do anything for our children...which is why investing in women is the surest way to end global poverty. Research has shown that women around the world are more likely to invest their income in food and education for their children – creating a lasting cycle of poverty-reduction. In fact, in many poor countries, one woman's job supports up to fifteen other people!

Unfortunately, barriers such as unequal wages, bad working conditions, and lack of credit and property rights, keep millions of hard-working women around the world from earning the income they need to lift their families out of poverty. Moreover, women often work longer hours in the lowest-paid sectors, earn less stable incomes, and receive less training and fewer economic opportunities. If the U.S. addressed these barriers in the foreign aid programs we're already funding, it could have a ripple effect on women worldwide – giving millions the opportunities they need to end poverty in their lives, families, and countries.

The Global Resources and Opportunities for Women to Thrive (GROWTH) Act, now before Congress, does exactly that. The GROWTH Act is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that, if passed, would address women's opportunities in U.S. foreign assistance and trade policies, making the U.S. a leader in economic empowerment for women.

How Would the GROWTH Act Help Women Living in Poverty?

The GROWTH Act would shape U.S. assistance and trade policy to empower women in these areas:

• Small Business: Help poor women start and grow their own businesses

• Property Rights: Help increase women's land and property rights

• Wages and Working Conditions: Help improve women's wages and working conditions by emphasizing training and education

• Access to Global Trade: Ensure that increased trade benefits reach women and families

Why Is Changing U.S. Policy Important?

As the largest economy in the world, a powerful trading partner, and major international donor, the U.S. can have a huge impact on the lives of women worldwide. By improving our policies, we can help empower millions of mothers around the world to lift their families out of poverty

Click here to sign the GROWTH Act Petition!



3 comments so far...

  • This is a very important topic. I, too, have read about studies showing that educating women in a poor country does tend to help lift their children, families and their whole society slowly out of poverty. Like the previous commenter KatieK, I don't know what to do with information that states otherwise...bias on the part of men, perhaps? All in all, if we continue to make the effort to help women worldwide with tools such as the GROWTH Act, we'll learn what works best and some of these efforts are bound to have a positive effect. I signed the petition, and applaud their efforts.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Anne Florenzano on 4th October 2007

  • I live in Turkey, where these issues are discussed on a daily basis. There has been a steady flow of people from the rural areas to the cities since the 1950s, until just a few years ago the majority of the population was living in cities. Industry in the cities has been unable to meet employment demands, and recently has turned from big industry to what are basically sweatshops set up in apartments throughout the low income neighborhoods that employ young women and men from the neighborhood at long hours and low pay. These work places offer no long-term employment, and thus no health benefits, or possibility of advancement. Usually the young women quit when they have children and do not return to work as recent urbanization patterns are breaking up the extended families that used to provide child care.

    The average income of a family in Turkey ( a whole family) is $5000.

    Turks are wary of international help, because ›n the past it has always come back to bite them in the ass. For example, during the 50s Turkey was part of the Marshall Plan and received millions of dollars for development. One area of development was agriculture. the farmers were given loans (in dollars) to buy tractors. Something like 25,000 US-made tractors were sold this way. Not only were these peasants hooked up to international debt mechanisms, they soon realized that they would have to import all spare parts from the US in order to keep running their machines. This was beyond the purchasing ability of most farmers. In fact, it was this mechanization of agriculture that pushed many farm families off their lands and into the cities, where a whole host of other problems awaited them.

    I read theses and dissertations at a graduate research institute. Studies about women and workers, income and debt, cross my desk regularly.

    There was a study done this summer on micro-credit for women. To the surprise of everyone, the results showed that the majority of the women who took loans were unable to pay them back themselves. They had to resort to other loans with less favorable conditions to pay back the initial loan. These loans were usually from men in their families, rendering the women further dependent on them. Also, the kinds of businesses the women in the study tended to get involved in were low-growth, low return and most of the profits were then given to the head of the household, almost always men. It was concluded that the loans as presently applied indebt women more than helping them.

    As for internationally funded training programs, the report said that while men take courses that train them for industry or white collar jobs, women choose to be trained in child and health care, which are low paying, non-growth jobs with no benefits (please note the word "choose").

    The report concluded that the international funds for loans and training do not tend to help women "lift their families out of poverty." One side note was that the international funds usually help the organizations that arrange the credits and courses more than the individual clients.

    I do not know what to do with this information. I was dismayed, reading the study. I suppose all that can be concluded is that present systems of aid do not really change much, so new systems must be developed. I personally believe that education is key. UNtil recently in Turkey only education up to 5th grade was required. Now it is to 8th grade and they are trying to make it 12th. There are an estimated one million children between the ages of 6 and 14 who are not enrolled in school (population of Turkey is 70 million) and 57% of them are girls. More than 50% of these 1 million children live in the remote and mountainous eastern and southeastern provinces. Per capita income in the southeast is barely 42% of the national average (this is about $250 dollars a month for a whole family and these families tend to have many children). In these area, it is not like the men are doing well and the women are not, or the the men have opportunities and the women do not: they are all oppressed and suffer in their poverty.

    The majority of the world's population lives in poverty. There will have to be a major shift in consciousness to get the leaders to turn their attention from war profiteering and oil grabbing to helping the world's poor. I hope the GROWTH Act Petition can have an impact and draw attention to this issue.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KatieK on 3rd October 2007

  • I forgot to add...
    Check out the Work It Mom Group, I Support the Growth Act!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Laura on 3rd October 2007