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    Economic development focused NGO shares perspective on women’s economic empowerment

    March 8, 2013

    For immediate release

    CESO marks International Women’s Day with strategies to foster economic opportunity through Canadian expertise.

    (Toronto, Ontario) – Empowering women in developing countries to access economic opportunities and resources is key to lifting them, their families, and their communities out of poverty says a new report from CESO (Canadian Executive Service Organization). Improving access to education, skills training, and financial resources through cooperative partnerships are identified as the catalysts to this economic empowerment.

    According to some estimates, one billion women -- roughly one-seventh of the world’s population -- are unable to achieve their full economic potential and ensure their own well-being due to barriers to entering the workforce and engaging productively in the economy. The report, entitled Women’s Economic Empowerment: A CESO Perspective, examines the multitude of challenges women face in trying to improve their economic status while offering evidence-based strategies for achieving success. It is being released on International Women’s Day.

    “Women’s economic potential is a plentiful, untapped resource in developing countries,” said Wendy Harris, CEO of CESO. “We have the power to unlock that potential and in so doing, make progress on other important development goals such as poverty reduction, private sector growth, and improved child and maternal health.”

    Consider these findings:

    • If women-run farms were given equal access to resources such as improved seeds and fertilizers, the increased yields from their farms would secure access to food for 100 million people worldwide.
    • A large segment of all registered small businesses, 38 per cent, are owned by women.
    • Women represent more than 40 per cent of the global workforce, 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce and the majority of the world’s university students.
    Measures to increase economic participation for women must be multi-dimensional. Access to health care, greater female political representation, and improved legal rights must all be taken into consideration. Yet as the report makes clear, access to opportunity and economic resources can significantly improve income levels, employment prospects, and the development of small businesses opportunities.
    CESO confronts this issue through a partnership model that matches experienced volunteer professionals with the needs of local organizations and institutions to achieve concrete sustainable results through a comprehensive multi-year plan of action.  
    CESO’s work with microfinance institution Mutualité Femmes et Développement du Burkina (MUFEDE) in Burkina Faso is a good illustration of how this approach can be effectively applied in the context of this issue. CESO’s Volunteer Advisors provided technical expertise and support to the institution, including improving human resources, product development, and credit management policies. As a result, they helped MUFEDE dramatically improve its loan repayment rate and strengthen its capacity to offer loans to female entrepreneurs, which has enabled these clients to access a source of capital previously unavailable to them.
    The report highlights additional examples of collaborative partnerships in which CESO has engaged to produce tangible results to better the lives of women.
    “The challenges women face in the developing world can appear overwhelming,” said Harris. “Yet by pursuing more inclusive economic growth and working closely with local partners to identify needs and to design a collaborative approach, progress can be made. CESO’s goal is to bring about lasting change.”
    About CESO (Canadian Executive Service Organization)
    For 45 years, CESO Volunteer Advisors, who are unique in their senior level of professional experience, have focused on helping individuals and organizations across Canada and in 120 countries build strong, viable businesses and independent communities. Through their mentorship approach and partnership model, CESO's volunteers help to create sustainable change through personal client relationships and the strengthening of local partner institutions.
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    For more information please contact:
    Christopher Holcroft
    Empower Consulting