Today is International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate the achievements of women all over the world. Historically, women have not been given the same economic opportunities, especially in developing countries, as men, and while this has been changing, there is still work to be done. When women are empowered and supported so that they can provide stability for themselves and their families, poverty shrinks, hope is created, and God is glorified.
There are many ways to empower women around the world. Jesus’ Economy is working with an existing program in Bihar, India to do just this.
In Bihar, a state in extreme poverty, families are forced into a repeated cycle of poverty in which their basic needs are not met. In Bihar, a program exists to teach women tailoring and seamstress skills. Jesus’ Economy is partnering with this program to add a new, innovative business-training program. With this program, we will create sustainable jobs for the impoverished.
The day Jesus’ Economy decided to launch the program is a day CEO John D. Barry will never forget. A woman placed her hands in his and wept. She said, “I can now afford to keep my kids in school, but keeping food on their plates often feels impossible. I am constantly facing the decision of whether to eat or pay for school supplies or clothing for my children. Will you pray for me and my children?” She could pay for her kids to go to school through her sewing work, which she learned via a non-profit sewing school, but her business needed a boost.
Women like this are ready to work hard to offer their children a better life; they just need the opportunity. Together, we can give them this chance for a hopeful future. Jesus’ Economy is offering graduates of the sewing program the chance to learn how to make products for a western market—as well as learn business basics and ethical business practices.
Our partner in Bihar has already taught women how to sew, but they need the additional business skills to become successful and sustainable.
Our business-training program will teach 40 women how to expand their businesses. The training has two phases. First, a trainer will come in and offer a one-week training session on product development, employee management, handling accounts, and running an ethical, fair trade business.
The second phase involves hands-on product development training. This will be a two-week session that guides the women through their own product development cycle and further business ethics training. This trainer will be available for an additional 10 weeks for free consulting to the women. By the end of the training, the women will be equipped to sell high-quality products locally and on the western market. They will have moved from tailors to successful international businesswomen.
After the training, the women will be eligible for a microloan from Jesus’ Economy to purchase supplies for their expanding business. Jesus' Economy also changes the economic paradigm by becoming the guaranteed buyer of the products the women are creating. Jesus' Economy will sell these products in our fair trade shop.
Business-training ultimately fights against the cycle of poverty, and gives women hope of changing the future for generations to come.
International Women’s Day isn’t just about celebrating what women have accomplished. It is also about recognizing what we can still do to empower women and work to put an end to global poverty.
On this International Women’s Day, you can empower a woman in Bihar, India to lift her family out of poverty, and bring positive change to the world.
This article was adapted from, “Empowering Women in One of the Poorest States in the World."