Women’s Empowerment Collectives
Empowering women through financial inclusion, training and leadership opportunities
In Togo, West Africa, poverty and inequality remain extremely high, particularly in rural areas where poverty is twice that of urban areas. 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.
Women can also attend a workshop about how to check for breast cancer and talk about their fears surrounding it.
As poverty disproportionately affects women and girls, we also provide women’s rights workshops. These workshops create the opportunities for women to learn about subjects covering gender equality, legal rights within a marriage, advice on domestic violence, property ownership, and awareness of their economic rights.
Women are encouraged and inspired during these workshops to find their voices and to become leaders in their homes and communities.
“More and more people now understand that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not just a goal in itself, but a key to sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security”
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro
Deki’s Women’s Empowerment Collectives simultaneously address gender inequality and poverty.
Gender inequality remains a major obstacle to the eradication of extreme poverty in Togo, where 50% of the population lives in extreme poverty.
Vulnerability is higher among women, as they spend more time on unpaid work, are more likely to be employed in the informal sector, have fewer economic opportunities, are underrepresented at high levels of decision making and lack access to other basic socio-economic facilities.
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, only one in five women in rural Togo, has access to a bank account.
Women 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.
All of Deki’s Women’s Collectives meet fortnightly, where they receive livelihood development loans, swap advice or receive training on a variety of topics: from financial management to 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.
“Since joining Espoir, things are changing, they are better than before. In the past, I had problems with my business and problems finding money to pay for my children to go to school, even problems finding food. But now I can help my husband pay for school fees and for food for my family.”
Amedia Maria, Espoir Women’s Empowerment Collective
Let our beautiful, award-winning animation “Afi’s Story” take you on the journey of a Deki loan.
Afi has been with Deki since 2017, and although no longer in need of business development loans, Afi is still a member of her collective, the Ave Marie, and acts as a role model and mentor to the other women in the group.
During the pandemic, with the increased need for clean water, Afi used her final loan to help her community, by having a water fountain installed. Before now the local women and girls would have had to travel for miles on foot to risk collecting dirty and unsafe water.
Afi sells the water at cost price and asks only that it covers the maintenance of the fountain.