SEATTLE, Washington — A third of women worldwide are victims of gender-based violence. CARE, an international humanitarian organization, has a female-focused poverty response to fight gender-based violence in impoverished communities.
CARE, founded in 1945, stands for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere. The organization provides countries in need with humanitarian aid, including healthcare, access to education, agricultural advice, food distribution and emergency response. Although CARE aims to help alleviate poverty for all, CARE’s work consists largely of female-focused poverty responses to encourage gender equality in countries that don’t typically enforce it.
One large gender-based problem that persists across the globe is gender-based violence. CARE defines gender-based violence as “a harmful act or threat based on a person’s sex or gender identity.” According to research conducted by CARE, gender-based violence often occurs due to established patriarchal norms and practices across cultures and countries. In turn, gender-based violence forces women into a position secondary to men in terms of rights to education and to participate in the economy, among others.
In an interview with the Borgen Project, Kalei Talwar, a representative of CARE, said, “CARE believes that women and girls around the world are an untapped resource. […] Their potential gets overlooked. We honestly believe that women and girls have the ability to lift their communities out of poverty if they’re given the tools to empower themselves.”
PowerUp: Africa Against Gender-Based Violence
CARE established several programs, such as The Tipping Point Initiative, EMERGE and PowerUp, as a part of its female-focused poverty responses to address gender-based violence.
PowerUp is a project created by CARE that works across Africa’s Great Lakes region, where 37% to 52% of women have been victims of gender-based violence at the hands of an intimate partner. The project strives to reach 13 million people to free women from domestic violence. As such, CARE is reaching out to Village Savings and Loans Associations that can provide women with the ability to obtain greater incomes and control resources previously dictated by men.
Coupled with this, CARE also establishes counseling programs across these African countries that encourage the rejection of gender-based violence. These family and cultural-focused counseling sessions also ensure that women can pursue these greater opportunities within the economy without putting them in danger by increasing the probability of opposition in the form of gender-based violence.
The combination of these various programs within PowerUp works together to ensure the long-term prevention of gender-based violence. “We often find that making sure women are not isolated and that they have the ability to advocate for themselves and things like money or income to back it up, has a significant impact on the rates of domestic violence,” Talwar said.
CARE has seen much success with PowerUp particularly in Rwanda, where, in only five years, the rate of gender-based violence in the country decreased by more than half.
Fighting Gender-Based Violence is Fighting Poverty
Fighting gender-based violence in impoverished countries as a female-focused poverty response is essential to eliminating poverty for all genders. Equality promotes economic growth, as women add additional economic value when they are treated fairly in the workforce.
“I think it’s the entire idea that women’s labor and work has been historically, and continues to be, undervalued. I’m sure you’ve heard ‘for every dollar a man makes, it’s around 75 cents for a woman.’ If that woman was making one dollar, that’s 25 extra cents in the economy; 25 cents of additional value that never existed before. It creates a lot of additional economic value,” Talwar said.
This is also true for government success, which is imperative to create a country of success and prosperity. “Essentially, the more diverse a governing body is, the more likely they are to pay attention to the needs of the most vulnerable people in the areas that they’re governing,” Talwar said.