Women's Empowerment CollectivesEmpowering women through financial inclusion, training and leadership opportunities
In Togo, West Africa, nearly half of women between 15 and 24 can’t read or write. Girls often have to sacrifice their education to take on waged work to support their family’s income or stay home to care for sick or elderly family members.
Nearly a quarter of women in Togo are married under the age of 19 years old and half of these women go on to have children within the first year of marriage. With little or no access to family planning advice and contraception, women are trapped in a cycle of poverty.
Women often bear the responsibility for meeting their family’s needs but with little education and no capital to start a sustainable business, they are unable to work their way out of poverty.
When a woman has her own source of income and is supported to use her own voice, she becomes empowered to make the changes she wants to see for her family and in her community, becoming a role model for the next generation and breaking the cycle of poverty.
This is why we have created the Women’s Empowerment Collectives. These are solidarity groups where women come together to learn their rights, develop leadership skills and learn how to create a successful business.
Gender inequality remains a major obstacle to the eradication of extreme poverty in Togo, where 50% of the population live in extreme poverty.
Togolese women do not experience the same educational or economic opportunities as men: they are less likely to finish secondary school, access financial services, or know their basic human rights.
Whilst nine out of ten Togolese women run their own businesses, they lack access to essential services and often struggle to grow their income. Many of these women remain financially dependent on men, unable to work their way out of poverty or shape their own futures.
Our Women’s Empowerment Collectives (WEC) simultaneously address gender inequality and poverty. We do this by providing women with the opportunity to access financial services, develop new skills, learn about their rights and become women’s empowerment collective leaders.
All of our WECs meet fortnightly, where they receive livelihood development loans, swap advice or receive training on a variety of topics: from customer service, to women’s rights or family planning. As a woman grows her skills, business and confidence, she is supported in accessing larger loans. After four or five loans, it is our aim for a woman to have grown her business so she no longer requires our support. At this point she may become a WEC mentor or graduate to formalised banking services.
If you would like to find out more about our Women’s Empowerment Collectives, please follow this link to our blog