40 years of existing is reason enough to celebrate. But even more so when one’s birth marked the beginning of a world-wide movement founded on the principles of justice, self-reliance and economic empowerment for all, with a mission to alleviate conditions of poverty by providing credit and resources to the most disadvantaged, financially-excluded, “unbankable” communities in the world.
Women’s empowerment comes in many different forms. As orchestrated efforts are required to make significant advances in women’s empowerment, it would also not be fair to attribute women’s empowerment entirely to one sector or development initiative. Take microfinance, for instance. Microfinance’s impact on women’s empowerment is often measured by the number of female borrowers. This form of measurement does not take into account other contributing factors such as decision making power, access to resources and self-determination. A microfinance loan alone cannot determine whether or not a woman is empowered, however access to microfinance “has been seen as contributing not only to poverty reduction and financial sustainability, but also to a series of ‘virtuous spirals’ of economic empowerment, increased well-being and social and political empowerment for women themselves, thereby addressing goals of gender equality and empowerment”*.
This year Oikocredit celebrates its 40th anniversary as a cooperative - 40 years of lending investors’ capital to partner organisations, in order to help disadvantaged people in developing countries build their businesses, support their families, sustain their communities and help protect the planet.