WASHINGTON, D.C. — Since the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals 13 years ago, substantial progress has been made in the advancement of the social and economic status of women in developing countries. These improvements include considerable development in women’s healthcare and education.
The map of progress for women and girls remains unequal between countries. In some countries, changes are widely visible; in others, change is minimal and even retrogressive.
In developing countries, there has been an increase in the rate of women working on farms and in businesses. Despite this increase, working women remain more likely than men to become victims of financial insecurity.
According to the latest Millennium Development Goal report released in 2013, many women in developing countries are dying from preventable complications during childbirth. What is more, only 53 percent of births in developing counties are attended by licensed healthcare professionals.
To assess the impact of foreign aid on the the advancement of women and girls in the developing world, Project Concern International (PCI) convened a Congressional Briefing hosted by Congresswoman Susan Davis, Congressman Scott Peters and Congressman Juan Vargas.
The event brought together a diverse group to discuss the actions needed to improve the condition of women. Held on May 9, the briefing formed a discussion on the challenges and actions needed to improve existing tools and develop new ones for better data collection and analysis when it comes to social and behavioral issues at the individual and collective level.
This is part of a broader PCI project, the Women Empowerment initiative, which is “dedicated to promoting the economic and social empowerment of women through the formation of self-managed and self-sustaining savings groups. A women’s savings group (WE group) consists of 15-20 women who save money together, lend to each other and conduct business together.”
By providing the necessary tools and guidance in record keeping, savings, lending and entrepreneurship, women are able to manage their own finances and become economically and socially independent. PCI’s initiative is dedicated to promoting global economic and social empowerment of women.
Also, in its newly released “zero” draft of the Sustainable Development Goals, among the 17 general headings, the U.N. has proposed some concrete steps to empower women and achieve gender equality. For instance, one of the goals under this specific heading is universal access to information and communication technologies by 2030.
These commitments towards the empowerment of women and achieving gender equality worldwide are certainly not easy to implement and measure. However, with the commitment of organizations such PCI and the U.N., and coordination among the individual agencies, there is the possibility to design and apply the necessary mechanisms to deliver measurable results. There are certainly plenty of examples to follow.
– Sahar Abi Hassan