CARE's Testimony to Congress on Women's Economic Empowerment

CARE's Testimony to Congress on Women's Economic Empowerment

7/14/17

On July 12, the House Foreign Relations Committee got together to discuss an issue central to CARE’s work – how to empower women economically in the developing world.  The importance of women’s economic empowerment is broad: not only can women own businesses, produce and sell crops, and participate in the economy, they gain a sense of independence and control over their lives when they can earn, save, and invest their own money. This hearing recognized that women are not just recipients of American aid, but active partners in making their lives and those of their families, communities, and nations stronger.

CARE submitted written testimony for this hearing that emphasized just how critical women’s economic empowerment is to women, but also to their communities and nations. At a community-level, women who can earn and save their own money make greater investments in their families’ health, education, and nutrition. At a national and global level, studies show that if women participated in the economy identically to men, the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2025 would increase by 25% - roughly equivalent to the size of the combined U.S. and Chinese economies today. Central to this is connecting poor and marginalized women with the skills and services they need to save and  control the money they earn, such as through CARE’s Village Savings and Loans Associations.

But CARE’s testimony also underscored that women’s economic empowerment cannot be achieved without addressing the social, cultural, and structural barriers that hold women back in their communities.  Issues such as lack of access to family planning and reproductive health services, child marriage and gender-based violence, and legal barriers to women owning property or obtaining a birth certificate are critical challenges. To sustainably lift women and communities out of poverty, we must empower them by working to overcome these barriers and by supporting their access to the tools – skills, banking services, and markets – they need to successfully engage in the economy.

CARE's full testimony can be found here.

Gayatri Patel

Senior Policy Advocate, Gender & Empowerment

CARE USA

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