Most of us know how much our mothers do, and have always done, for us. We know how important they are, and how we rely on them for support, no matter if we are young or old, rich or poor. Our mothers would sacrifice everything so that we are safe and happy – I think this is a universal trait of mothers all throughout the world. And for one day each year, we officially honor them for being, in many ways, the most important woman in our lives.
Yet even though we recognize the importance of our moms each Mother’s Day, so many mothers in the developing world are viewed as much less. They are seen as mere bearers of our children, and are often beaten and sexually abused. These mothers are disregarded when it comes to economic development, ignored as an effective means of family income. Women make up half of the world’s population, yet they are rarely given an equal opportunity.
The reality is that women do the majority of work in much of the developing world. They are the backbones of many communities –the ones supporting their families, the ones starting small businesses and cultivating the fields. One such woman is Adama Diarra, a borrower of Oikocredit Project Partner, Soro Yiriwaso, a microfinance institution that gives loans to women in Mali.
This 52-year-old mother of four lives in the rural village of Dafara and owns a hectare of peanuts and a small cookie-baking business. The microloans Adama receives have helped her to maintain her peanuts and expand her small business. With the profit from her ventures, Adama now sends her children to school and can buy them proper clothing. She says the ability to save and borrow money has allowed her to reinvest in her own business and gain financial independence.
This story of Adama is just one of many. Millions of women – mothers – through small loans and support have been able to pick themselves and their families up out of extreme poverty and significantly improve their quality of life. Many people believe that the best, most effective way of reducing poverty is through investing in women. It is time we give mothers throughout the world the same support that they have given us, by investing in them.
Eighty percent of the clients Oikocredit supports are women, many of whom are mothers. This mother’s day, instead of sending flowers to your mom, why don’t you give a gift that will last much longer – give the gift of an investment account, and help to change the life of someone else’s mother.