Economic Empowerment

Imagine what we could achieve if half the workforce wasn’t held back?

From a young age, many girls are taught that their role is at home, not in the workplace. They are taught that men are the breadwinners, and they are the carers. They are excluded from education and training.

But when a girl is given the tools and resources to pursue the career and life she wants, she doesn’t just change her own life. She helps break the cycle of poverty for good.

When you empower girls and young women, everyone thrives

We believe that poverty shouldn’t stop a family from feeding their family or sending their children to school. That women and men should share control over finances. That girls aren’t forced to carry the burden of domestic labour.

All children deserve to go to school, follow their dreams and pursue a career that they want. Education is at the heart of this. But for young people who missed out on an education during their formative years, our vocational training and youth economic empowerment projects provide a second chance for young people to develop skills and knowledge that can help them find employment or inspire them to become their own boss.

We work to provide vocational training to young people and help them set up a business. We establish savings clubs to give communities a safety net and empower women with financial literacy training. And we work with families to make sure that decisions about money are made together.

When girls are educated, it means an extra $21 billion a year for their economies. This means more jobs for everyone, and a reduction in overall poverty. But outside of the economy, vocational training and financial independence can completely transform an individual woman’s life.

Thanks to this vocational training, I can become financially independent.
  • Faith, a member of Plan International’s Girls Advocacy Alliance.

The farmers combining resources in Timor-Leste

In Timor-Leste, almost 40% of people live below the poverty line, and many struggle to source enough food to survive. Now, a unique cooperative supported by Plan International is offering them the chance to improve their farming capabilities and overcome critical food shortages.

By pooling their resources through a savings scheme, groups of farmers have been able to construct greenhouses, which help their crops grow better and increase their income.

One family alone could hardly afford to build the simple greenhouses … But working together as a cooperative and with the support of our microfinance project, it is now possible.
  • Romaldo da Custo of Plan International Timor-Leste.

The importance of women’s economic empowerment

Too often, women are trapped in dangerous situations because they have no financial means to escape. Without a financial safety net, women facing domestic violence at home or exploitation and abuse in a work setting can be forced to stay in situations that put their lives at risk.

When women have financial independence, they have the power to remove themselves from situations that put their lives in danger. Women just like Faith, who grew up in poverty in Kenya and was unable to finish school. By the time she was 18, she was trapped in a violent marriage.

“I felt so miserable and lonely, but I couldn’t leave my husband because I had nowhere else to go,” says Faith.

Things started to change for Faith after she heard about the Girls Advocacy Alliance, a program supported by Plan International that helps empower girls to stand up for their rights.

“The Girls Advocacy Alliance invited us for trainings and seminars on how to address issues like gender-based violence and how to get help in case you find yourself trapped in an abusive marriage.” Faith says, adding. “Every time we went to these meeting, the project would facilitate our transport to and from the venue by sending us money for our fare. This really helped me keep going.”

The project also provides the girls with vocational training to enable them to earn a living and live independently.

“I love fashion, so the seamstress course immediately appealed to me,” she enthuses. “While I was married I had no idea what I would do with the rest of my life.

But thanks to this vocational training, I have learned how to make dresses and skirts, which I want to sell in the future.”
  • Faith.

Faith left her abusive husband and now intends to finish her education and buy a sewing machine, so she can start her own business.

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