In our next blog post looking at the work of MFAN’s Partners, we will highlight the work of Women Thrive Worldwide, a non-profit organization seeking to shape U.S. policy in order to foster economic opportunities for women in developing countries. Women Thrive believes that women are the key to ending global poverty, and investing in women and girls is one of the most efficient uses of U.S. foreign aid. Research has proven that women are more likely than men to invest any income they receive in food, clean water, education and health care for their children, creating a positive cycle that can lift entire communities out of poverty. And now more than ever world attention has turned toward empowering women through a variety of initiatives, including the Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative, which makes women’s health interventions a top priority.
Last month, Ritu Sharma, President and Co-founder of Women Thrive and an MFAN Principal, traveled to Burkina Faso to learn more about the challenges that women farmers face in trying to feed their families. Many Burkinabe women spend their days performing difficult fieldwork to grow food and crops, all while caring for children. Yet, because customary law excludes women from owning land, most are unable to invest in the tools and resources that would allow them to better feed their families. In her travel diary, Ritu explains why even Burkina’s newest land laws are designed to keep most benefits of land reform from reaching women farmers, what she calls “discrimination, plain and simple.”
Learn more about Ritu’s trip to Burkina Faso and read an excerpt from her travel diary after the jump:
“What would they do with the extra income if they had it? I asked. They told me that they would first buy some land as a group so they are not always worried about losing it to men in the community, or discouraged from improving it (because it could be taken away from them at any moment). Next, they said, they would dig communal wells, so they could access better water and avoid the hours of travel that take away from time farming or caring for their children.”
In her travels, Ritu met with the Coordinator from the Coalition Burkinabe pour Le Droit du la Femmes (CBDF), a local coalition of 15 women’s associations that educates Burkinabe women and helps them advocate for improved economic rights among individual women farmers, government officials, and U.S. development agencies working in the region.
Women Thrive recognizes that U.S. foreign assistance has the power to be a positive influence in developing countries – when done right. However, our current aid system lacks coordination, which “represents more than just inefficiency: it is a wasted opportunity to save lives.” This is why Women Thrive Worldwide has joined forces with MFAN to improve U.S. foreign aid and enhance the United States’ ability to invest in the prosperity of future generations.
Learn more about Women Thrive Worldwide and their campaign for aid effectiveness here.