Currently, PCI's Women Empowered (WE) Initiative supports 232,000 individuals in 13,000 economic and social empowerment groups, collectively self-generating .5 million of member equity. The initiative is integrated into 30 programs, including those focused on HIV/AIDS prevention, food security, family health and sanitation.
PCI commits to equipping an additional 250,000 women with the tools, training and income-generating opportunities to become change-agents in their communities. PCI will build upon success of the WE Initiative started in 2012, scaling it throughout its existing 16 country programs and integrating an economic component called Wealth Generation Pathways (WGPs).
PCI will engage community, business, and government leaders to introduce WE and to identify 'facilitators' with knowledge of communities' unique needs. Facilitators lead outreach to the poorest, offering information about forming WE groups. Self-selected participants create 15-25 member groups, and facilitators train on savings, financial literacy, bookkeeping, business planning, leadership, and public-speaking.
Where possible, WGPs will be integrated to multiply women's income. Market experts will work with facilitators to identify investment opportunities. For example, in communities with frequent drought, investing in irrigation or drought-resistant seeds might be identified. Facilitators will provide support to groups to start or grow their businesses and increase access to markets.
To measure the success of its efforts, PCI will launch the second generation of its 'Lives Changed Indices' (LCI 2.0), a multi-dimensional survey, to measure the impact of international development programming on social empowerment and quality of life in areas such as gender equity, social capital, education, and health. PCI will redesign, and validate the LCI 2.0, which will include three new modules to measure civic engagement, leadership and access to health care. LCI 2.0 will be a robust tool allowing for greater ease of administration and feasibility and providing for effective measurement of the impact of WE and the introduction of WGP.
I: October '14 - March '15:
Countries targeted for expansion will be divided into three groups based on readiness, partnership identification, and availability of resources. Country groups will be referred to as Country Groups 1, 2 and 3.
Build partnerships and design solutions to scale WE Initiative focusing on increasing the following: participation rates, utilization of mobile technology, participant access to capital, and local capacity in market assessments.
Enhance WE training modules, focusing on financial literacy, business planning, and bookkeeping.
Develop Wealth Generation Pathways methodology.
Begin redesign of LCI 2.0 focused on ease of use, validity, and incorporation of new modules areas: civic engagement, leadership, and access to healthcare.
II: April '15 - March '16:
Initiate roll-out of Country Group 1 and Group 2 activities including translating of training materials, engaging community leaders, initiating organization of WE groups, conducting baseline monitoring and evaluation, field testing completed LCI 2.0 modules, and conducting local market assessments.
Identify target countries for specific evaluation activities.
Targets: 2,000 groups formed in 4 countries, 40,000 participants trained.
III: April '16 - March '17:
Continue implementation activities in Country Groups 1 and 2, and initiate roll-out of Country Group 3 activities (noted above).
Targets: 6,000 groups in 4-8 countries, 120,000 participants, and ,000 equity.
Field testing of LCI 2.0 to ensure clarity of questions and comprehension of the survey by staff and participants. The LCI will be revised based on findings from field testing.
IV: April '17 - September 17
Continue to implement Country Groups 1, 2 and 3
To ensure the quality of results generated by the LCI, a study will be conducted to test the validity and internal reliability the tool. Linguistic equivalence will also be tested to ensure that the LCI retains accuracy and precision across languages.
Targets: 12,500 groups in 4-8 countries, 250,000 participants, and ,250,000 equity.
Women are capable of driving global change. However, even with unprecedented progress made to improve the lives of women and girls around the world, the majority are still disproportionally affected by interrelated causes of poverty and lack of social and financial opportunities to improve their lives and the lives of their families and communities (IMF, 'Empowering Women is Smart Economics', 2012). This is particularly true in countries where prevailing circumstances, such as discriminatory laws over access to finance, markets, land ownership, and basic education, continue to limit women's potential to advance positive change.
Investing in women to achieve their full economic and social potential is essential to catalyzing global change. Providing women with the tools, knowledge, and resources to unlock their full potential not only empowers the individual, but enables communities to thrive. The World Bank's '2012 World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development' report highlights that supporting women's economic and social advancement can increase economic productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and advance beneficial social policies. Such targeted investments must be coupled with the ability and mechanisms to measure the prescribed programming to ensure the desired outcomes are being achieved.
Microfinance has been a promising approach to support women's economic participation by providing millions of women at the bottom of the pyramid with small loans. Data on livelihood changes for women participating in microfinance groups indicates improvements in income and well-being; however, traditional microfinance programs alone can have limited impact and lead to dependencies on external sources of funding, or slow economic advances (Microfinancegateway.org, 2014).
Critical gaps remain to build social capital and financial literacy of women and ensure income gains are truly a sustainable pathway out of poverty. Moreover, there is a lack of validated measures to accurately capture the social impact that development programming has on women.
In addition to financial support to develop the training modules, the Wealth Generation Pathways methodology and the rapid scale-up of the program, PCI seeks to develop partnerships with private partners, as well as other non-governmental organizations and public stakeholders. PCI seeks technology partners interested in supporting use of mobile and other appropriate technology in Women Empowered group operations, such as in mobile money, remote learning and data collection. PCI also seeks partnerships with banking and microfinance institutions, as well as telecommunications organizations, to increase group members' access to and use of capital in support of 'wealth generation pathways' development. For the LCI, PCI is seeking partners who can provide financial support and/or technical capacity to develop and refine LCI 2.0, such as research or academic institutions.
PCI's community-based approach and ability to adapt programming to local contexts provides the foundation for creating mutually beneficial partnerships. PCI utilizes innovative approaches and applies technology-based solutions where appropriate. The Women Empowered Initiative is integrated into PCI's global programming, and investing in the Initiative provides partners the opportunity to make a leveraged investment. PCI offers rich experience in developing and testing the original LCI, which will serve as the foundation for LCI 2.0. In addition to existing knowledge about measurement, PCI also offers the ability to field test the tool across multiple geographies, languages and program areas through its presence in 15 countries and nearly 60 active programs in Asia, Africa and the Americas.