More than twenty-five years after the historic 1995 Beijing Conference and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, CARE applauds the convening of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) in Paris, from Wednesday June 30th- Saturday, July 2nd, 2021. Organized by UN Women and co-hosted by the Governments of France and Mexico, GEF brings together women’s rights organisations, CSOs, INGOs, governments, the private sector, philanthropic foundations, and international institutions to re-energize and renew global commitments and accountability on promoting the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG5: Gender Equality.
As one of the organizations leading one of the “Action Coalitions” during the forum, CARE is making bold commitments towards a future of gender equality by 2030:
- CARE’s first commitment is to invest $100 million to support 10 million women and girls as leaders through savings and solidarity groups - or Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) - as part of the Economic Justice and Rights Action Coalition.
- Secondly, as part of the Feminist Movements and Leadership Action Coalition, CARE will invest an additional $30 million into local woman-led humanitarian organizations, focusing on women’s and girls’ rights.
“As the unacceptably slow walk to gender equality is at risk of being pushed back by yet another generation, the Generation Equality Forum cannot come at a more crucial time,” says CARE International’s Secretary General, Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro. “Change will not happen if only half of those impacted by the pandemic are represented at decision-making tables; we urgently need more women leading the response and recovery, and more investment in local women’s and girls’ organizations. Global leaders need to commit, unite and act now so we collectively seize this opportunity to ‘build forward’ - not just build back.”
CARE’s signature VSLA Savings Group model builds on our work over the past thirty years, which has so far facilitated Savings Groups for 8.4 million people across 51 countries by supporting women’s economic empowerment and creating platforms for social solidarity and collective actions.
The evidence of the effectiveness of VSLA Savings Group over the last thirty years has been overwhelming. In Rwanda, women in VSLA Savings Group’s that undertook couples dialogues saw gender-based violence fall by 50% and their incomes rise by 20%. Meanwhile, women in VSLA Savings Groups have been half as likely to report challenges with livelihoods, food security, or access to health care, compared to those who do not participate in the Savings Groups.
Part of CARE’s commitment(s) to reach an additional 10 million women and girls includes partnering with at least 10 African governments to form and engage with Savings Groups when developing economic justice policies and programs.
These commitments and CARE’s investment of $130 million will put women and girls at the center of decision-making, leading long-term development and humanitarian responses with their own solutions. In the words of Nomao Hadzia, a member of a VSLA Savings Group in Niger, “Before the advent of the groups, we lived quite hard.... we were put aside.... Now we are awake, we know our rights and the ways to claim them.” VSLA Savings Group member Sani Marliya adds, “We are no longer afraid …. I can speak in front of any assembly. And if it is a question of defending our rights and our feminine cause... I will defend our interests whatever the cost, and by our own means.”