“When you educate a girl, there is a ripple effect that goes beyond what you would get from a normal investment…When you educate a girl, you educate a village.”
–Sheryl WuDunn in “Half the Sky”
It is axiomatic to say that the secret to eliminating extreme poverty is to educate girls and economically empower women. As @AllisonKooser of Opportunity International wrote, “Women are a secret weapon in the fight against global poverty. They are an often untapped resource that has the potential to improve livelihoods, economic outputs, productivity, and human life itself.” Shanta Foundation harnesses this powerful weapon in our fight against extreme poverty in Asia and Africa.
By creating Women’s Savings Circles and Women’s Discussion Groups, we undo centuries of economic marginalization and bring hope to villages trapped in desperate poverty. Women’s Savings Circles are safe spaces where women can speak their minds, learn principles of personal finance, accumulate capital, and receive coaching in the basics of entrepreneurship. Programs like this are an economic rocket that lifts the entire community along with the participants. According to a recent United Nations Report, “Gender Equality: Why It Matters,” one dollar invested in programs improving income-generating activities for women will return $7.00! What business can match this ROI?
The ripple effect from girls’ education and women’s empowerment program touches every aspect of a community’s life. Consider… When girls stay in school, they live longer, healthier lives, marry later, have fewer children, and drastically increase their future incomes. If all girls had a secondary school education, there would be two-thirds fewer teenage pregnancies, and women would have fewer children overall. (UNESCO, 2013. “Education Transforms Lives”) The frequency of child deaths would decrease by nearly 50 percent. (Malala Fund Global Education Monitoring Report, 2017). Moreover, according to a 2013 study, if all women completed their primary education, maternal mortality would fall 66%—from 210 to 71 deaths per 100,000 births. (UNESCO, 2013. “Education Transforms Lives”)
This data is stunning and compelling. Join us in our pioneering women’s empowerment work if you want to #breakthebias that has disempowered women for centuries.