Through their Women’s Empowerment Program, Convoy of Hope is helping women around the world to realize their value and reach their potential through job training and education. As a result, many of these women now own businesses that enable them to feed and care for their own children. This matters because of the 1.3 billion people living in abject poverty, 70 percent are women. As Kara Edson, director of the program says, “That’s unacceptable. We’re helping women break the cycle of poverty.”
Helping Women Break The Cycle of Poverty
I couldn’t agree with her more, which is why I – along with 21 people from Springfield, Missouri, as well as from Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina – flew to Ethiopia earlier this month to experience firsthand what Convoy of Hope is doing on the ground to help women and children.
The Women’s Empowerment Program is multi-faceted. With the Women’s Micro-Enterprise Program, Convoy of Hope equips women with financial education, vocational training, cooperative saving groups and even start-up capital. Women can then participate in income generating activities as they launch their own small businesses.
Through the Mother’s Club, women attend educational sessions where they are trained in nutrition, health and hygiene, literacy, small-scale community agricultural, and craftsmanship/cooking. Participants who display consistent attendance receive a month’s worth of food to help supplement their diet, which helps Convoy of Hope address the nutritional deficiencies of children who are not enrolled in school.
Convoy of Hope also reaches out with Empowered Girls, which brings educational programs to schools and communities. Sessions include contextually appropriate topics like self-esteem, gender-based violence, and harmful cultural beliefs and practices.
Helping Women Gain Self Esteem and Build Self Confidence
The trip was truly remarkable because I was able to interact with the women of Ethiopia, and see how our help – through job training and education – was helping them gain self-esteem and build self-confidence. With these tools, and with micro-loans, these women can start their own businesses and give better lives to their children.
In Ethiopia 1,000 women have attended the program since 2010. As a result, these women have experienced a 240% increase in income compared to before they joined the program. In 2013, 300 women graduated from the program, moving out into the world more in charge of their future. In fact, the Women’s Empowerment Program is proof that when women are given the opportunity to generate income, it not only impacts their families, it impacts their country’s economic standing. Together, we are helping them learn to make strategic, independent life choices by providing training right in their own communities.
When Women Win, We All Win
This was not my first trip with Convoy of Hope, and it won’t be my last. When women win, we all win.
Robert Henley, general manager of University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center was part of our group, and traveled to Ethiopia with us. He has blogged about his experiences here.