The majority of the world's poorest billion people are women and girls with the share of women employed outside of agriculture remains as low as 20 percent in Southern Asia.
Around Bangladesh, it is women and girls who are disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination. Often, women and girls are not allowed to make decisions about their household's income, or tradition and culture forbid them to leave their homes. In other words, half of the population cannot contribute to their family's and community's economic development. A great resource goes untapped. But women are an important part of the solutions needed to truly overcome poverty. They play a key role in navigating their family and their community to a better life.
Our experience shows us that when equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help their families and entire communities escape poverty. When women earn an income, they reinvest 90 percent of it in their families while for every year a girl spends in school she raises her family income by up to 20 percent. Additionally, educated girls grow into educated women, who have healthier babies and are more likely to educate their children. It's a simple formula: empowerment is the total sum of changes needed for a woman to realize her full human rights. Empowerment is not just about giving women training or a loan. Empowerment is more than that. It means that relationships and social structures that shape the lives of women and girls must change.
Women's empowerment can only be achieved when we include men and boys. Men are often those who define and keep women within their boundaries. But when we engage with them they realize that their wives' empowerment benefits the whole family. Promoting gender equality and empowering women is the key to lifting entire families out of poverty - and it defines our programs worldwide. CARE Bangladesh is focused on women exercising greater choice in decisions affecting their lives; reduced violence against women: and the emergence of strong social movements built on women's solidarity and participation of men.
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