Breaking the cycle of poverty is often seen as insurmountable. While there is no single or simple solution, there are proven strategies that help people improve their incomes. And improved incomes mean people can better provide for themselves and their families.
Improving the incomes of people is at the heart of World Vision economic development projects, because the generation and use of wealth is fundamental to eliminating poverty and transforming lives.
The world’s poorest citizens - those who most desperately need income improvement - are typically excluded from economic opportunities.
The reasons for their exclusion include:
- lack of education and skills
- lack of job opportunities
- lack of capital
- inability to access markets
- lack of business acumen and business skills.
Yet, there are ways to empower people in these situations. By providing them with opportunities to acquire knowledge, skills and confidence, they can take control of their lives, and find ways to solve their own problems and make their own decisions. Through being empowered, both economically and socially, people are able to see new possibilities and imagine better futures.
This process can be difficult both to start and maintain, but there are many examples of empowerment projects that have succeeded. World Vision’s ultimate goal is to address the causes of poverty in a sustainable way rather than simply relieving its symptoms.
The impact of gender equality
Studies show that gender inequality has a negative impact on economic growth, limiting progress and productivity. Gender norms can often halt women’s economic participation, relegating them to household roles alone. World Vision recognises that improving household income doesn’t necessarily equate to better well-being of families - the way money is spent is also important. Due to gender norms, decision-making on the use of household income is often driven by men, and women might not have a say in determining how funds are spent.
Research shows that when women earn income they invest approximately 90% of it into their families. When women are empowered, skilled and able to earn their own income, the benefits are substantial. Women will be able to negotiate for increased access and control over economic assets, and will have increased household bargaining power. They will be able to access financial markets and credit, and will use their income to benefit their families. Investing in women has huge dividends – impacting the health and well-being of families to break cycles of poverty.
This was originally published on the 14th of September 2009.