Thoughts from Executive Director, Wade Griffith
Ever been to a Golden Corral restaurant? For your sake, I hope not. Still, there is one fantastic attraction at these semi-seedy buffet joints. THE CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN. An ever-flowing font of milk-chocolatey goodness surrounded by dippable treats like strawberries, pineapple, marshmallows, and cookies.
No, you didn’t stumble into a “best food at bad restaurants” blog. (Although that is a pretty good blog idea!) It’s just that chocolate fountains come to mind when I think about women’s empowerment programs, programs like the women’s savings groups (WSG) that we start in partner villages. Like a chocolate fountain, WSG’s created an endless cascade of goodness, positive outcomes that touch every part of an impoverished village.
Beyond giving the women a civic space to speak and be heard, something they do not have in their domestic spheres, a WSG is a classroom, a business incubator, and a leadership development laboratory. Through their involvement in a WSG, women discover and enhance their economic power. Whether it is a growing savings account or a business they launch using a WSG loan, WSG participants develop an enhanced sense of personal agency and begin to imagine possibilities that they would have never considered before joining the group.
Imagine how their changed outlook and confidence alter the trajectory of their daughters, daughters who now can emulate an independent woman who is charting her own economic path. Imagine the difference when these women can now afford to send their children to school regardless of whether the husband has the money or inclination to make it happen. Imagine a transformed way of “being in the world” when a woman becomes literate and learns accounting skills.
Because these women are now economically empowered, their children have consistent and nutritional meals. Their children can go to school. They can take their kids to a medical clinic if needed. They have hope and a future, something they would never have been able to offer their kids.
If my development experience has taught me anything, it is this. Empower a woman, and you change a village forever. What they gain, they share. What they learn, they teach. Where they go, they take others. If you agree that women’s empowerment is the secret to eliminating extreme poverty, particularly child poverty, join us in our pioneering approach. We need partners, other people committed to changing the world, one woman, one village, one child at a time.