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Expanding Microenterprise Opportunities for Women in Africa

For Immediate Release

March 24, 2009

Contact: Nicole Y. Williams

(202) 225-2661

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Hosts Briefing On Expanding Microenterprise Opportunities for Women in Africa


Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) convened a briefing on microenterprise and the role that microfinance initiatives can play in empowering women in Africa. The briefing was co-hosted by Congressman Donald Payne, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and sponsored by CARE USA, one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations fighting global poverty. She released this statement:

“As the global economy continues to struggle, women around the world continue to be the most vulnerable to the debilitating cycle of poverty. They work longer hours for lesser pay, enjoy fewer economic opportunities, and have less access to government social safety nets.  According to the Global Fund for Women, although women perform more than two-thirds of the world’s labor, they only own 1 percent of the world’s assets, and comprise 70 percent of the world’s absolute poor.  It is no wonder that women are disproportionately affected by economic recessions.

“Empowering women is one of the surest ways to improve the well-being of the family and the long-term economic prospects of a country. In countries throughout Africa, we know that tapping the proven economic vitality of women is enormously beneficial to these countries’ economic growth and human development.

“Microfinance is considered one of the great success stories of U.S. foreign assistance – due to its ability to reach the poorest of the poor, especially women, and to its proven multiplier effects across communities.  Women have been shown to invest micro-funds in their families and in their neighborhoods at a much higher rate than the general population, contributing to job creation and income growth throughout entire populations. 

“Microfinance funds are not a one-time handout, but are regenerative, allowing impoverished families and communities to lift themselves out of poverty. At a time when commercial investments to poor areas are declining due to global economic conditions, an increase in public funding is ever more crucial to protect the most vulnerable and excluded.

“We need to ensure that these funds, and our overarching policies, are effective in promoting women’s economic empowerment and in combating the endemic gender inequalities that continue to reinforce the vicious cycle of poverty around the world.”

CARE, the Cooperative Assistance for Relief Everywhere, is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE specializes in helping empower poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.





Nicole Y. Williams

Communications Director

The Honorable Barbara Lee (CA-9)

2444 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

(202) 226-0323 (Direct)

(202) 579-1925 (Cell)

(202) 225-9817 (Fax)



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