Why Fighting Poverty Means Investing in Women

March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD). Throughout the month of March, celebrate IWD with Lutheran World Relief. Visit lwr.org/women for free resources to share with your family and friends how your support uplifts women around the world. 

Why does it matter if LWR and other organizations work to uplift women living in poverty around the world? How does it help? Here are just a few of the reasons.

Most of the People Living in Poverty Around the World Are Women

We're working with farmers like Maria, from El Salvador, who are seeing their coffee trees destroyed by a crop disease called la roya, or leaf rust. We're helping farmers diversify their crops, so they have other means of supporting their families.
We’re working with farmers like Maria, from El Salvador, who are seeing their coffee trees destroyed by a crop disease called la roya, or leaf rust. We’re helping farmers diversify their crops, so they have other means of supporting their families. (Photograph by Sean Hawkey for LWR)

Seventy percent of the world’s poor are women. There are many reasons for this. Women spend twice as much time as men taking part in unpaid labor (such as household tasks). (Source) In developing nations, they don’t have the same access to land and productive assets, such as credit to purchase quality seeds, tools, fertilizer and other necessary items to build strong agricultural livelihoods.

When Women Farmers Produce More, Everyone Eats More

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Madialia Illa, 60 (left) and Rakia Habibou, 50 (right) proudly display their goats. LWR is working with their women's group, called Union Nazari, to grow herds, improve crops and become more resilient.
Madialia Illa, 60 (left) and Rakia Habibou, 50 (right) proudly display their goats. LWR is working with their women’s group in Niger, called Union Nazari, to grow herds, improve crops and become more resilient.

Women farmers make up 40 percent of the agricultural workforce in developing nations, yet they own less than one percent of the land. When women have the same amount of land as men, crop yields can increase as much as ten percent. Further, the United States Agency for International Development has predicted that investing in women farmers could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 to 150 million. (Source)

Investing in Women Has a Ripple Effect that Strengthens Whole Countries

Daisy and her family
LWR works with families in Peru to grow native potato varieties and earn income so that children like Daisy (in pink) can have a better future.

When families earn a sustainable income, they can meet their families basic needs. Once families meet their basic needs, they can focus on things like education for their children. Educating girls has a powerful effect on the national economies of developing nations. When 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) rises by three percent. (Source)

Empowered Women Help Sustain Development Gains

Rice farmer Mariam Abdallah stands in the midst of her thriving rice field near Dodoma, Tanzania. LWR is working with rice farmers to improve their production, income and livelihoods.
Rice farmer Mariam Abdallah stands in the midst of her thriving rice field near Dodoma, Tanzania. LWR is working with rice farmers to improve their production, income and livelihoods.

When women living in poverty earn income, they reinvest most of it into their families (Source). As a result, access to education, health care and other essential needs are met. But that’s not all. Infant mortality rates go down, agricultural productivity rises, population growth slows and local economies expand. (Source) These kinds of improvement work together with the kind of long-term sustainable development work LWR does to create lasting impact.

When Women Use Their Voices, They Speak Out to End Poverty

India-Nepal pic
Malarai Devi, and other women in her community in India, participate in a training as a part of an Early Warning system project whose goal is to help families protect themselves from seasonal floods that destroy homes and devastate livelihoods.

When women are educated and empowered, they participate in the decision making processes that affect their lives and their families’ well-being. When women are included, they are a driving force against poverty, not only improving their own household incomes but also helping other women and families gain access to land, jobs and financial resources. (Source)

Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day. Be sure to check back as we add stories about women and communities around the world you are reaching with your support.

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