Women in Srilanka looking at Mobile Device

WAGE Sri Lanka: Holistically Empowering Women Leaders

The WAGE Sri Lanka project works with local women leaders to address some of the multifaceted challenges women in their community face, through the formation of women’s collective action associations, training sessions on gender sensitivity and inclusion as well as sessions to improve their skills in participating in local decision-making processes. Furthermore, the project extends business skills and financial literacy training, linkages to women-friendly financial products, and advocacy surrounding laws that limit women’s community participation and economic growth.

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Grameen Foundation and Partners Launch Global Initiative: Women and Girls Empowered

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, we are in the midst of a major cultural shift in how society thinks and talks around issues of gender equality. In parallel, there has been an rapid rise in advocacy and community mobilization. The global development community has an unprecedented opportunity to transform this momentum into action, working alongside local partners to bring about breakthroughs for women.

Seizing this historic opportunity and recognizing the power of strategic partnerships in promoting gender equality, Grameen Foundation is pleased to announce its engagement in Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE), a new, four-year global programming consortium to advance the status of women and girls worldwide. Led by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), other key partners include the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and Search for Common Ground. WAGE aims to support women’s economic empowerment; improve the prevention of and response to gender-based violence; and advance women’s roles in peacebuilding, mediation, and reform processes.

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People working in Ghana field

Reducing gender-based violence for women entrepreneurs in northern Ghana

Women have limited access to a range of formal financial services, which prevents them from obtaining the capital they need to start, grow, or improve their businesses. Only 10% of women in this region can obtain credit from a formal institution.

At the same time, an initial risk assessment conducted by Grameen Foundation, in partnership with the ABA ROLI-led WAGE consortium, found that harmful gender norms and gender-based violence (GBV) risks increase for women entrepreneurs. It cites an earlier study that found 27% of all women experience physical GBV and 34% experience sexual GBV. This has led to the creation of GBV response referral networks that are mandated by the government. However, in rural Northern Ghana, these referral networks are weak and support services are often costly and hard to reach.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1977. Credit: Wikimedia Comons/Lynn Gilbert

'On the Basis of Sex'

Grameen’s role in the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium is an effort towards a holistic approach to women’s empowerment and equality. Grameen works with community-based organizations and financial institutions to design and deliver gender-sensitive interventions, products, and services. Our partner American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI) works to influence women’s legal barriers while the Center for International Private Enterprise joins Grameen Foundation to support women’s economic empowerment but at the level of Chambers of Commerce and business associations. Search for Common Ground works to fully integrate women’s roles in the peace and security decision-making in post-conflict societies. While we’re just at the beginning of this work, we collectively work with the hope that these efforts empower not only women, but benefit the low-income households we all seek to serve.

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Ayisha, a mobile money agent in Ghana, assists her client, Fuseini, who is wearing a blue flowered head covering

Promoting Women’s Financial Inclusion Through Mobile Money Enterprises in Ghana

Grameen’s WE GAIN program in Ghana—which is part of the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium—aims to train 90 female mobile agents, known as digital financial services plus agents (WE GAIN DFS+ agents) who can collectively reach 9,000 clients like Fuseini. As they are trained on and provide both digital financial services like mobile banking, and also health and gender-based violence reduction resources, WE GAIN DFS+ Agents can build trust with other women in the community—and particularly, those who experience gender-based violence (GBV), which affects about a third of all women in that region.

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Woman and her two children

How can we strengthen women’s economic empowerment in Central America? With a $368K matching fund and wrap-around support.

The Reducing Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (RBI), is taking a holistic approach to the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in El Salvador and Honduras. This includes addressing issues of financial inclusion, gender-based violence, and the laws and policies that impact women’s economic empowerment. RBI is the first initiative under the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) Consortium led by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in close partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Grameen Foundation, Search for Common Ground and 43 resource partners.

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Confident woman shop owner

It's complicated: Mitigating risk for women entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs face many challenges as they pursue their businesses, ranging from gang violence to restrictive gender norms. Grameen Foundation has developed several training programs for microfinance institutions, local partners, and aspiring entrepreneurs to address these barriers.

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) podcast recently highlighted these initiatives, interviewing Grameen Foundation's Bobbi Gray, Research Director, and Amelia Kuklewicz, Regional Director for Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Host Ken Jaques, Bobbi, and Amelia discuss the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium, of which Grameen is a key member; Grameen’s Reducing Barriers Initiative (RBI), and the Resilient Life Resilient Business (RLRB) Curriculum. These projects address women’s needs as entrepreneurs but also as holistic individuals facing broad systems of legal barriers, social norms, corruption, and gender-based violence.

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