Let’s talk about why International Women’s Day is such an important holiday: It’s not just to celebrate the badass women in your lives, and it’s not just to honor the brave women who came before us (though feel free to do those things, too!). International Women’s Day helps us bring attention to the shrinking-but-still-ever-present disparities and inequalities women face every day.
All over the world, women work more hours than men but consistently earn only 60 to 70 percent of wages (and the stats are far more dire for many Women of Color). Only 20 percent of landowners are women. Of the people in extreme poverty across the globe, living on less than $1 per day, 70 percent are women.
In small ways, you can push back against these depressing statistics every day of your life; negotiating harder for higher pay, calling out an off-hand, sexist remark you would have otherwise ignored, or taking a moment to verbally encourage the women close to you. But since it’s International Women’s Day, I’m asking you to do one, small-but-impactful, actionable thing to empower a woman in the world today. It’s easier than you might think.
In honor of International Women’s Day, microlending non-profit Kiva wants to help 10,000 women around the world by funding their entrepreneurial projects — and they want The Everygirl readers to get involved: For every $25 loan you fund, you’ll receive another $25 credit to fund another woman’s dream for free.
How to empower a female entrepreneur with a Kiva microloan
Let’s get one thing straight right from the start: This isn’t a donation — it’s a loan. Kiva connects people in need (81 percent of whom are women) with people like us who, typically, have $25 to spare every now and again. These micro-loans help women all over the world start businesses, go to school, and create sustainable sources of income for themselves and their families. Once they repay your loan — and 96.9 percent of Kiva’s loans are repaid in full — you can use that money again to empower another woman.
100 percent (I REPEAT, 100 PERCENT) of your dollars go directly to the woman you’re funding, and you can select exactly which woman and project you want to fund.
Right now on the site, you can help an initiative of female farmers in Sierra Leone purchase a tractor to increase their productivity and profits. You can help a woman named Khadijeh, in Jordan, fund tuition for her daughter’s chemistry degree. You can help a group of traditional weavers in Peru purchase wholesale thread in bulk, so they can make more money on each sale.
And that’s just on the first page.
Communities do better when women control more money
Money is powerful in the hands of women — there’s a surprising amount of data to back up that communities in developing nations do far better when women hold more control of financial assets.
“Why do microfinance organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the workforce and bring home regular paychecks?” Asks Nicholas Kristof, author of Half the Sky, in a New York Times OpEd. “One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending… especially by men.”
Kristoff points to an economic research project in Ivory Coast, where men and women traditionally grow different crops. Some years, men’s crops do well and men have an influx of income. Other years, women’s crops do well. “When the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food,” Kristoff writes. “A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier.”
Empower women to empower themselves
What I love most about the concept of microlending is that you’re not paying to give someone a singular meal or pair of shoes — you’re providing them with a means to afford those meals, shoes, education, healthcare (and all the other things that should be basic human rights but are denied to so many) on their own.
Leading up to International Women’s Day, Kiva wants to fund the projects of 10,000 women around the world. For every $25 loan funded, they’ll give you another $25 credit to fund another woman’s dream for free.
You can check out businesses and social initiatives to fund right here. Thanks for doing your part.
This post was in partnership with Kiva, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.