Women’s Economic Empowerment
We believe that in order to make lasting change, vulnerable women need the skills and resources to build self-confidence, understand their rights, earn an income, and gain the respect of their family and community. Over the past 6 years, we have tested and evolved our work to ensure the refugee women, survivors of wars have the ability to proudly stand on their own two feet. Through this program, the most vulnerable women learn economic skills side by side in a way that complement each other.
SOFERES defines Women’s Economic Empowerment as the process by which women fulfill their right to economic resources and power to make decisions that benefit themselves, their families and their communities. SOFERES recognizes that this requires women to have equal access to and control over economic resources, assets and opportunities; also that it requires long-term changes in social norms and economic structures.
Our women’s economic empowerment program enables the most vulnerable and marginalised women and girls in Dzaleka Refugee Camp and surrounding villages to earn and save money and actively participate in their community’s economy. SOFERES works primarily with single parent with multiple children, no family or other support networks, and no skills that they can rely on to make money.
When a woman or a girl is qualified to join our program, She learns a marketable job skill such as tailoring, soap making, bread baking, hairdressing or poultry farming, as well as business training (the basics of starting/running a small business, working in groups and groups’ management) to turn her chosen skill into a stable income so she can support herself, her family and her community. After she has completed our training program (upon graduation), we continue to support her journey to empowerment and self-sufficiency through advanced trainings and the provision of tools and start up grants to effectively utilize the capital for productive ends and transition into independence.
She and other trainees also receives guidance in forming or joining self-organized and self-managed savings and loan groups , each consisting of 10-20 members so that they can make the most of their earnings, save and grow together to forge new paths for themselves and their communities.
Group members meet weekly to make decisions that impact the group, participate in life-skills training, discuss issues of mutual interest and pool their small funds into a common fund. From that common fund, members take loans and repay with interest. By saving their earnings, group members are able to pay their own rent, feed their families, cover household expenses, and eventually launch their own successful businesses
The savings groups become a platform for members to not only raise awareness on important topics, but also to join together, share experiences, learn critical skills such as sexual and reproductive health, sexual and gender-based violence prevention and response, HIV/AIDS prevention, peace building, leadership, human rights, community collaboration etc.; access new resources and take common action to improve their lives and communities.
We are also connecting them to different financial services and support networks to increase their ability to grow their businesses and unlock their full potential.