Women Leading The Way: Empowering Sustainable Futures On International Women’s Day

On March 8th, the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to honouring the achievements of women globally while recognising the ongoing fight for gender equality. Beyond their traditional roles, the inspiring women that Dana Asia works with have emerged as powerful agents of change, driving progress across various sectors while championing environmental conservation, economic empowerment, and social justice. Through this article, we want to amplify women’s voices and recognise their contributions to honour the resilience, strength, and determination of women as catalysts for building a more sustainable and equitable future for all. 

Unlocking Economic Potential: Women’s Financial Empowerment

Dana Asia is a social impact organisation with the core belief that empowered women are the bedrock of resilient communities. By ensuring that women have access to education, economic opportunities, and decision-making roles, we unlock their full potential and contribute to the betterment of communities worldwide. One example of how Dana Asia makes this a reality is by equipping women in the Philippines with the tools and resources they need to become successful entrepreneurs. Microloans ignite the spark of financial independence, while financial literacy training enables the informed financial and business decisions required to start and grow a successful enterprise. These businesses are more than just engines of income; they’re catalysts for community resilience. 

Dana Asia works in partnership with Grameen Pilipinas Microfinance Inc (GPMI) to facilitate microfinance as a powerful tool for promoting gender equality and economic empowerment. GPMI provides small loans, financial services, and financial literacy training tailored to women’s needs, microfinance institutions enable women to start or expand businesses, invest in education and healthcare, and improve their families’ wellbeing. Access to microfinance allows GPMI members to take control of their financial futures, break the cycle of poverty, and become active participants in their communities’ economic development. Moreover, successful women members serve as catalysts for positive change within GPMI’s areas of operation, inspiring other women in their community and fostering social and economic progress. Women like Marife in Rizal, Philippines who became a member of GPMI in 2015 and used her first microloans to slowly but surely build up her sewing business. Just a few years later, she had scaled her home-based business up into a custom clothing enterprise and now works with a whole team of inspired and empowered women to keep up with customer demand.

Fostering Sustainability: The Intersection of Women’s Empowerment and Environmental Stewardship

The synergy between women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability is vital for creating a thriving and equitable world. By involving women in decision-making processes, promoting their access to education and resources, and supporting their economic independence, we harness their unique perspectives and innovative solutions to address pressing environmental challenges.

Analen Alopoop, zero-waste pioneer in Rizal, Philippines is an example. Analen was running a traditional “sari-sari” store in her community, a small shop that sells basic items predominantly in single-use sachets. There are millions of these tiny shops all over the country, with 163 million sachets being used by Filipinos each day. This contributes no end to the country’s plastic waste crisis – almost 3 million tons of plastic waste is generated annually with a considerable amount of that ending up in the oceans. The Philippines contributes 36% of the world’s total plastic waste into the ocean. Analen recognised the role we all must play in protecting the environment and decided to take a stand against plastic waste. In September 2023 she became the first GPMI member to pilot a new “eco sari-sari store” loan product which gives borrowers the capital to turn a section of their store into a zero-waste store. Loans are used to buy refill containers and weighing scales and bulk purchase basic products that can be sold without plastic packaging. For example, instead of buying a sachet of coffee, customers simply refill the coffee powder directly into their mug. Analen’s influence is so powerful that GPMI named the local centre after her, the “Alopoop Centre”.

Breaking Barriers, Building Futures: Women’s Empowerment and the Challenge Against Tradition

In patriarchal societies, challenging gender norms and empowering women are essential steps towards achieving economic empowerment and fostering societal progress. Dismantling traditional barriers and promoting gender equality unlocks the potential of half the population, allowing women to participate fully in the workforce, entrepreneurship, and decision-making processes.  In Cambodia, patriarchal norms continue to exert a significant influence on society, shaping gender roles and perpetuating inequalities. Traditional beliefs often prioritise the status and authority of men, relegating women to subordinate positions in both the household and broader society. Women face systemic barriers to education, economic opportunities, and participation in decision-making processes. However, when women are empowered economically, they contribute significantly to household incomes, spur economic growth, and drive innovation.

One such empowered woman is Preap Rin who is challenging gender norms in rural Siem Reap by launching her own small business raising chickens. With social investment and training from Dana Asia, Preap Rin has been able to take control of her financial future and her hard work and determination to make her business succeed has increased her family’s monthly household income by 69%. Preap Rin is one of a growing network of women “outgrower” farmers in Cambodia, all running their own businesses from home to change their family’s futures.

Fostering Prosperity and Sustainability: The Unyielding Impact of Women’s Empowerment on Economic and Environmental Fronts

The intertwined dynamics of women’s empowerment, economic development, and environmental sustainability underscores the urgency of prioritising gender equality initiatives worldwide. Recognising and supporting the pivotal role that women play in these realms is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic investment in building resilient and thriving societies. On this International Women’s Day, we want to honour those women who balance an oscillation between being homemakers, economic leaders, and environmental warriors. Women like Analen, Marife, Preap Rin, and millions of others like them across the world who are the driving forces in unleashing the transformative power of gender equality on a global scale.

Join the Movement: Be a Force for Change

The journey towards a future where every woman thrives and every community blooms starts with a single step, a conscious choice to be a part of the solution. Businesses can partner with Dana Asia, individuals can donate, and together, we can rewrite the narrative.

Become a force for change. Invest in resilient communities. Support women-led social businesses. Choose sustainable practices. Let’s weave a future where empowered women drive economic growth and greater social cohesion to leave a legacy of positive change for generations to come.

Similar Posts