Women's Empowerment and Social Capital
Heifer believes that women’s empowerment and social capital are critical components to establish living incomes in communities. We also have seen first-hand the benefit of equity between men and women over control of assets, decision-making and labor.
Women’s empowerment is an intentional component of our work. We remove barriers to women’s economic empowerment––creating access to credit, basic productive resources, technical training and market opportunities. We see a direct link between women’s equitable participation in decision-making and an increase in the economic and social well-being of families. Our programs encourage:
- Women exercising their economic rights
- Women’s decision-making capacity regarding economic and natural resources
- Women’s active participation in generating household economic resources
- Women owning land, small businesses and earning living incomes
We support the full and equitable development of women and men to strengthen families and improve communities. To ensure women are equally involved in decision-making, we work with women’s groups and mixed-gender groups. We encourage husbands and wives to share in decision-making, ownership of animals, labor and the benefits of projects. Training uses a family focus, demonstrating how gender equity benefits all family members. Our programs promote gender equity through:
- Training on human rights and gender equity
- Training on the rights of children
- Access to education by all school-age girls and boys
- Women in leadership and decision-making roles
- Equity in workload through appropriate technology and shared responsibilities
“Social capital refers to institutions, attitudes, and values that govern interactions among people and contribute to economic and social development. Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions that underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together” (World Bank).
Heifer’s Values-Based Holistic Community Development model is a package of practices that creates social capital and builds an enabling environment for sustainable development work. Major components include:
- Strong community structure to pool resources, discuss, identify and prioritize needs, plan and execute activities to empower groups such as cooperatives and producer association
- Positive changes at a cognitive level, including strong social capital and positive attitudes among community members
- Availability of resource requirements for Passing on the Gift, especially livestock and fodder saplings/seeds
- Conservation of resources, including the environment, for sustainability
Values-Based Holistic Community Development gives marginalized groups the capacity and drive to initiate enterprise activities and integrate into the market economy.