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„Because we’re not all in the same boat“

How CARE and UN Women fight for the rights of women and girls

Turbulent times

We’re all in the same boat with COVID-19? Not quite. While some can weather these stormy times quite comfortably on a yacht, others struggle to merely survive on a raft. The pandemic affects the lives of almost everyone on way or another, but in an utterly unequal way. In the countries where CARE works, this means that entire families go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food any more. And what this crisis has clearly shown: Women and girls are the ones most severely affected by its impacts.

Andrea Barschdorf-Hager, National Director CARE Austria, and Desiree Schweitzer, President of UN Women Austria, explain why women all over the world still have to fight for their rights.

What are the reasons?

They face a higher risk of infection due to the work they do. The majority of the workforce in so-called “systemically relevant” jobs, e.g. in the health sector, is female. They are more likely to work in low-paid or informal job, e.g. as domestic workers, market vendors, textile workers – the kind of jobs offering no legal or social protection that are the first to be cut in times of economic stress. That’s why millions of women have lost their livelihoods overnight, and now don’t know how to feed their children. Their access to economic and financial opportunities is diminishing, making it even harder for them to rebuild their livelihoods after the pandemic. And finally, women have been exposed to not only by one, but two pandemics: the “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence.

CARE and UN Women: Making women’s and girls‘ voices heard

The pandemic puts decades of hard-won progress on women’s economic justice and rights at risk. CARE and UN Women won’t let that happen. That’s why we will be working together over the next five years to fight for girls’ and women’s voices to be heard, and to make sure that they have the same opportunities and rights – not just on paper.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by disasters, crises and conflict, say Andrea Barschdorf-Hager, National Director CARE Austria, and Desiree Schweitzer, President of UN Women Austria

When the lockdown was imposed in Uganda, the economic life in Bidibidi, a refugee settlement, came to a standstill. The effects were devastating, also for Kiden Charity. Until recently, she earned her living by selling Koboyo, a local dish, at the market. “When everything got closed, I was really stressed out,” Kiden says. “It was the only income we had.” And she was not alone: almost everyone in her savings group was affected. But the women were not ready to accept defeat. On the contrary: they started to sew, because they realized the increasing demand for face masks. CARE and UN Women supported the group with sewing machines and materials. “We’re earning money and at the same time we’re helping our people to stay safe. We can contribute to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the camp, and that makes me very happy,” says Kiden Charity.


How CARE supports women’s empowerment

Economic justice and rights for women and girls has been at the heart of CARE’s work for decades. Small savings groups are often the first step to their own income for women. In weekly meetings, they put small amounts into a savings box that is jointly managed by the group. But village savings and loan associations are much more than that: they are an opportunity for women to talk to each other, exchange ideas and ask for advice in any matter. They are also a platform to convey knowledge on topics as diverse as entrepreneurship, health, or nutrition. During the COVID-19 pandemic, savings groups helped spread information on the corona virus and how to prevent its spread. They quickly adapted to the new realities and supported their members in adjusting their business models to survive this crisis.

billion US dollars are saved annually by village savings and loans association members

million women were supported by CARE

projects on financial inclusion and broader economic development were implemented by CARE in 2019

million people benefitted from CARE savings groups

About the Action Coalitions

UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Despite progress, it is still a long way to go until women’s rights are respected all over the globe. That’s why UN Women convenes 6 multi-stakeholder partnerships that will mobilize governments, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector, the so-called Action Coalitions, to deliver tangible impact on gender equality and girls’ and women’s human rights. CARE was selected as co-lead for the Action Coalition on Womens’ Economic Justice and Rights. For decades, CARE has been a relentless advocate for women’s economic empowerment, and will contribute its longstanding expertise in areas such as access to financial services, dignified work, and care economy. CARE is committed to to create the space for ideas, discussions and action with partners all around the world.

Austrian Development Cooperation
Generation Equality