Washington: On the eve of International Women’s Day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a USD 170 million project aimed at advancing women’s economic empowerment in four countries, including in India.
Announced on Tuesday, the investments focused in India, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will target four key priorities - advancing gender equality, spreading digital financial inclusion, increasing job opportunities, and supporting the agricultural sector and women’s support groups.
“One of the most profound ways a woman can make life better for herself and her family is to take control of her economic future,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“When women have money in their hands and the authority to choose how to spend it, they grow in confidence and power. They change the unwritten rules that say women are lesser than men,” she said in a statement.
The investments will build on the foundation’s previous financial commitments to advance progress on gender equality, including USD 80 million for gender data, advocacy and accountability, of which USD 20 million was dedicated to supporting women’s movements, a statement said.
According to the foundation, the data show that when a woman has the option of working outside the home and access to financial services to participate in the formal economy, families break the cycle of poverty and national GDPs rise.
When women have access to financial resources such as cash or mobile money, the ability to control those resources and the ability to make decisions that affect her, and her family’s future, women are empowered in ways beyond economics, it said.
The investments will not only help better understand what works to ensure women are able to fully participate in economies, but also dismantle the barriers that have held women back for far too long, said Sarah Hendriks, director, gender equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Our strategy is aimed at giving more women and girls the economic opportunities they need to engage as equals in society,” Hendriks said.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. It commemorates the movement for women’s rights.