Women’s empowerment has long been recognized as a pillar of successful economic, social and community development. Since the 1946 U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, the international development community has focused research and attention on women’s rights in political, economic, social and educational fields, and one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals focuses on Gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Enabling women to create economic self-sufficiency for themselves and for their families can provide a stabilizing environment within which to find their own power and to make their own decisions. Particularly in rural and/or underserved communities, where resources may be limited, women who work together to forge their place in their community can find strength in numbers. Community and government support programs are also necessary to provide a kind of “safety net” to ensure that women are able to continue to move forward.
Developing international exchange projects on women’s empowerment encompasses a broad range of social, economic, entrepreneurial, and government resources.
Important topics to consider related to women and families in rural environments include:
- Government support programs in rural environments: Agriculture, housing, health, micro-financing, technology availability and access, public-private partnerships
- Rural educational and career opportunities (extension services, community and vocational colleges, apprenticeship programs)
- Women-to-women and peer-to peer youth mentoring: skills assessment development; networking; business start-up and management; marketing; financing; strategic community outreach; use of social media
- Public and private programs geared toward low-income, indigenous, minority and otherwise disadvantaged communities
Such programs and initiatives can be found within government agencies, private businesses, large foundations, universities, two-year institutions, and numerous types of non-profit organizations which seek to support women and families in poor and rural communities in achieving positions of economic self-sufficiency.
The International Visitor Leadership Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by Meridian International Center.