Even as COVID-19 shifts from being a fresh emergency to a fact of life, extreme poverty and economic inequality are rising globally, worsened by the continued impact of the pandemic and new crises. Reversing these damaging trends is critical and possible, but only if resources, power, and support are put in the hands of those who have been hit hardest.
Our VSLA in Emergencies program, launched in 2021, is proving that when power is returned to even the most vulnerable and disenfranchised women, they prosper. And when women prosper, communities prosper. The findings amplify what we have always known, and what VSLA members around the world told us through our unprecedented Women Respond initiative. Since December 2020, we have asked over 17,000 women in 23 countries how they were responding to COVID-19. Women in VSLAs indicated greater resilience than nonmembers. Not only were they half as likely to report challenges accessing income, food, or healthcare, but thanks to the skills and networks of trust they had built through the VSLAs, they were leading their communities through the crisis.
We firmly believe that VSLAs are some of the most effective vehicles for economic justice and long-term resilience because they put women in control of their own resources, incomes, and destinies. That is why at the 2021 Generation Equality Forum, CARE pledged to work with governments to strengthen leadership among women and girls in VSLAs as part of our scaling strategy and 2030 target of reaching 50 million women in countries where gender and economic disparities are highest.
The Women Respond data speaks loud and clear. Now, more than ever, is the time to bring the power and potential of VSLAs to women everywhere, so that together we can build a stronger, fairer post-COVID world.
Please read through the Annual Report for FY22 to get a brief overview of the impact and power of VSLAs in CARE programming.