Women and girls play a critical role in the health and well-being of their communities, and empowerment of women is key to our prevention efforts. In the wake of upheaval, women and girls are often be principle drivers of recovery and community resilience, shepherding the process of rebuilding and reform despite violence they face. Evidence shows that sustained investment in women and girls is a core condition for sound progress and sustainability to occur.
The IRC strives to improve women’s economic participation and empowerment as a strategy to strengthen women’s rights, enable them to have control over their lives, exert influence in society and live lives free from violence. We are aware that the relationship between economic empowerment and gender-based violence is complex, and we seek to design social and economic programs to increase women and girls’ access to financial resources and promote the safety and empowerment of women and girls. We recognizes that it is not enough to only increase women’s access to resources, but that it is also necessary to change the structures that serve as barriers to empowerment.
When women have control over resources, it enhances their status in their households and communities and leads to more chances to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. The IRC has developed an innovative model called EA$E (Economic and Social Empowerment) that gives women financial stability and helps enhance their status in their homes/ families. After a successful launch in Burundi, the IRC has implemented EA$E programs in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Haiti.
In addition, the IRC recognizes the need for economic interventions tailored for women and girls in emergencies. We are currently examining how to most safely put resources into the hands of women and girls with the goal of decreasing their vulnerability to sexual abuse and exploitation.