“If you invest in a girl or a woman, you are investing in everybody else.”
–Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Rural community members cannot dream of bettering their situation if they do not have a source of income and a means to feed their children. The economy in Bhikamkor is male-dominated and relies heavily on agriculture. As a result, people suffer greatly during droughts or poor yield seasons. Bhikamkor residents do not have much education or job skills beyond agriculture and many men struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction, resulting in widespread poverty.
Conservative cultural norms in the village restrict women from fully participating in the formal economy. Girls are married at young ages and are responsible for bearing children and taking care of the house.
Before IPHD adopted Bhikamkor in 2014, most of the women in the village were not allowed to leave the house, let alone seek employment. Research shows that women typically invest a higher proportion of their incomes back into their families and communities than men do, making the economic empowerment of women vital to community development.
IPHD founded the Livelihood Program in 2015 to provide financial literacy education, skills training, microloans and employment opportunities to women in our adopted village Bhikamkor.
Our two main projects are the Microenterprise Project, which grants microloans to help start and expand small businesses run by Bhikamkor women, and Saheli Women, a fashion social enterprise that partners international designers with Bhikamkor women to create ethically-produced clothing and accessories.