Great change takes great courage.

Great Courage and PCI are Empowering Women

Malala Yousafzai is a girl with great courage. Malala said, “If we want the education of girls, we should be united. We should not wait. We should do it now.” True to her word, Malala advocated for education in her native Pakistan, where the Taliban had banned schooling for girls. Undeterred, Malala wrote a blog under a pseudonym expressing her beliefs about empowering women. She rose in prominence as her passion and perceptions began to touch the minds of people around her. So much so, that her opponents took notice. They decided to put an end to her influence. On October 9, 2012, Malala was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunman while riding a school bus home from school.

Malala Yousafzai survived. Her efforts have laid the groundwork of courage for other women in her area and across the globe. She is one of many in the examples of women empowering women – by thought, by conviction, by action. That is the path of great change. Great courage in those who see a need for change and are willing to do what it takes to affect that change.

PCI recognizes the fact that gender bias and discrimination against women is still a powerful negative force in significant percentages of our world population. The United States, along with many other countries, has made substantial strides in gender equity, but the battle for empowering women rages on, especially in too many countries where violence and oppression against women is a daily occurrence. This, despite the fact that female influence, hard work and perseverance provide the bedrocks of a family’s structure and successes.

PCI has harnessed the power toward proactive change with its Women Empowered (WE) Initiative. PCI’s Women Empowered Initiative is a global effort to promote the economic and social empowerment of women through the formation of self-managed and self-sustaining savings groups.

PCI provides training to savings group participants in governance, record keeping, savings and lending, and entrepreneurship. Regular group meetings provide a platform for social support and individual leadership development, enabling women to become powerful agents of economic and societal transformation within their communities.

The empowering women list is long. PCI believes that women who are empowered become solutions to poverty, poor health and vulnerability for their families and within their communities. Incredible potential is reached with the benefit of support, financial resources and ongoing encouragement.  Below are a few examples of success.

Mauricia: Rio Hondo Malacatancito, Guatemala
Mauricia Tarax Larios is a 54-year-old widow and mother of 12 children living in the community of Rio Hondo Malacatancito, Guatemala. She joined PCI’s WE Initiative in August of 2012 and is now excited about her future. She arrives an hour and a half early to every meeting. “At the first meeting I attended, I was charged a fee for arriving late. I don’t know how to read or write and I also cannot tell time. Now on the days I have a meeting I wake up before the sun comes out, I happily get ready and then I walk for an hour to arrive at my group’s meeting place.”

Ms. Larios finally feels empowered and that her dreams can come true. She is learning so much during the group meetings and trainings provided by PCI that she is now able to sell chilies and herbs in her community. Eventually she wants to rent a space at the local market to sell products every day.

Elfnesh: Ethiopia
PCI’s WE groups in Ethiopia have helped women like Elfnesh gain emotional confidence and a community of support. The women have been able to pool their resources to make clothing, purchase supplies, and make loans to its members – all of which have been repaid on time. Another member says, “It has saved us from looking for someone’s handout. This project has taught us the culture of saving.”

Oageng: Mosokotso, Botswana
In a remote community in Botswana, Mrs. Oageng Regelepeng had always been an incredibly shy member of PCI’s village-led savings group, which empowers women to make decisions that affect their social and economic lives. During discussions she never spoke and would shield her face when addressed. However, over time, she slowly opened up and became comfortable enough to ask a fellow member to teach her to write her name, as she was illiterate.

When PCI staff members returned for the next meeting, they were pleasantly surprised to see Mrs. Regelepeng’s name proudly written all over the group’s ledger book. In the months between learning to write her name and next meeting, Mrs. Regelepeng had transformed into a confident and outgoing woman capable of addressing topics that concerned her, such as HIV/AIDS and gender issues.

The Women Empowered Initiative is currently being implemented in 12 countries with a current membership of 250,000. Please visit our website – www.pciglobal.org/WE  – to read additional information about PCI’s efforts and successes in women empowerment.

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