microPension Foundation to advance pension and social security inclusion

Micro Pension Foundation co-hosts a financial counselling session at Sullimula Paniya tribal village (India). Photo courtesy of Micro Pension Foundation — Read the press release announcing Micro Pension Fondation’s Campaign Commitment (the link connects to the ESAF press release) — Read their Commitment letter (the link connects to the ESAF letter) —Watch the recording of the E-workshop co-hosted with the Center for Financial Inclusion, Micro Pension Foundation and HelpAge International, (hyperlink https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFzTaAlc7To)

microPension Foundation co-hosts a financial counseling session at Sullimula Paniya tribal village (India). Photo courtesy of microPension Foundation
Read the press release announcing microPension Foundation’s Campaign Commitment
Read their Commitment letter
Watch the recording of the E-workshop co-hosted with the Center for Financial Inclusion, Micro Pension Foundation and HelpAge International

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The Microcredit Summit Campaign welcomes microPension Foundation (mPF) as the 58th organization to make a Campaign Commitment. mPF commits to provide an integrated, contributions-led micropension solutions for 25,000 domestic help workers in India and work to further social security inclusion for low-income informal sector workers. With this Commitment, mPF joins a global coalition to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

The non-profit mPF is a specialized pension and social security inclusion R&D hub established in 2012 through an inception grant from VISA, Inc. mPF develops, field-tests, and mainstreams innovative and scalable technology-led solutions to enable secure, convenient, and affordable access to contributory pension and social security programs by low-income unbanked workers.

microPension Foundation joins our coalition and commits to the following:

  • By encouraging mass-scale civil society action to achieve pension and social security inclusion by motivating P2P action using the first global e-commerce social security platform titled “gift-a-pension.” This web-platform enables middle and upper-middle income households to enroll their domestic help (cooks, drivers, maids, guards) for an integrated pension, insurance, and micropayment solution through the Internet.
    Employers use electronic financial literacy tools (FAQs, animations, films, calculators) to explain pension and social security concepts and product features to their home help. Domestic help who do not have a bank account are provided a bank-issued prepaid card for channeling periodic micropension contributions to regulated pension funds and life insurers.
    By December 2016, the microPension Foundation will aim to achieve coverage of 25,000 domestic help employed by middle and upper-middle income households in India. The microPension Foundation will also identify and work with like-minded institutions in other developing countries to implement the Gift-a-Pension platform in other countries.
  • The microPension Foundation will collaborate with a specialized social security solutions enterprise to launch a new social security gateway named microPension-in-a-Box (mPIB). This gateway will enable governments, regulators, multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, MFIs, cooperatives, NGOs, and social enterprises more generally to offer an integrated social security program based on portable, individual pension and insurance accounts to their citizens, clients, or beneficiaries.
    With the Microcredit Summit Campaign, the microPension Foundation and the new solutions enterprise will launch a global road-show in mid-2016 to show-case the mPIB solution to Campaign partners and to build a global partnership-led implementation network.

gift a pension photo_275x338mPF will encourage, enable, and assist Campaign partners and other stakeholders to launch integrated, contributions-based micropension and microinsurance programs for low income excluded individuals. With this strategy, mPF seeks to multiply the impact of the social security inclusion effort and create a global micro-social security marketplace which will enable low-income, informal sector workers to achieve a secure and dignified old age through thrift and self-help.

Executive Director of Micro Pension Foundation, Parul Khanna, explains why they are committing with the Microcredit Summit Campaign:

“We are extremely excited about the huge potential global impact of the Microcredit Summit Campaign and are delighted to be a partner in this process. The mPF team is committed to work closely with the Campaign and fellow partners in the coming years to empower and enable low-income excluded women to achieve a financially secure and dignified old age.”

Read the Commitment Letter from Micro Pension Foundation.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign looks forward to welcoming our newest partners to the global coalition and sharing their progress towards the Commitment achievement at the 18th Microcredit Summit. The Campaign’s 100 Million Project is building a movement among financial service stakeholders committed to helping to end extreme poverty through: public statements of commitment to action, expanding practices to reliably measure movement out of extreme poverty, and promoting innovations and best practices to accelerate movement out of poverty.


We invite you to join microPension Foundation and…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

Join the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty:

Post MDG-4: Integrating health services to reduce child mortality

Millennium Development Goals: 2015 Progress Chart
Published articles to date: Introduction | MDG 1 | MDG 2 | MDG 3

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The United Nations recently issued The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015, the latest assessment of progress towards the eight MDGs. In short, they have had mixed results. This article is part of a blog series reflecting on the MDGs and the U.N. report. These are produced in partnership with our colleagues at RESULTS.


>>Authored by Carley Tucker and Sabina Rogers

MDG 4: Reduce child mortality

Target 4.A: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

From The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

From The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

The numbers appear heartening. According to the latest assessment on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), deaths of infants and children under five have greatly reduced. The under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half, from 90 to 43 deaths per 1000 births. Moreover, the annual rate of reduction in child deaths has more than doubled since 1990, and the rate has accelerated the most in Africa.

We learn that 4 out of every 5 of children have received at least one dose of the measles vaccine, preventing 15.6 million deaths between 2000 and 2013. In all, some 48 million children under five are alive today because of smart investments and increasing access to cost-effective health programs over the last 15 years.

This is good news for children around the world; however, underlying these advances is news that the achievements are not equitably distributed regionally, between rural and urban areas, nor socioeconomically.

Across all regions, progress toward MDG 4 has been “fair” to “excellent.” Furthest from reaching the target, though, are those living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While sub-Saharan Africa has had the largest decline in child mortality rates, it still experiences half of all child deaths in the world. Of the 10 countries with the highest number of under-five deaths, 5 are in Africa: Nigeria (#2 at 750,000), DR Congo (#4 at 305,000), Ethiopia (#5 at 184,000), Angola (#7 at 169,000), and Tanzania (#10 at 98,000). See the full list in this infographic from Humanosphere.

Children living in rural areas are 1.7 times more likely to die than those living in urban populations. Child mortality is 1.9 times as prevalent among poor households as among wealthy. Those whose mothers lack education are 2.8 times more likely to die than if their mothers had reached the secondary or higher level. So, of the 16,000 children under five who die each day — mostly due to preventable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria — they are likely to be from poor, rural, and uneducated households.

Have we really made substantial progress achieving MDG 4 when young kids in rural and poor communities continue to be the ones more likely to die before their fifth birthday? Allowing this population to fall behind will only exacerbate the vicious cycle of poverty. In order to make permanent advances in reducing early deaths, global development actors need to narrow in on rural and impoverished areas, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Where do we go from here?

Recognizing the need for a renewed effort towards improving health of the poorest households, the Microcredit Summit Campaign has identified integration of health and microfinance programming as one of its six pathways strategies key to ending extreme poverty. Poverty is both a factor contributing to and consequence of illness and disease, so it is not enough for clients to have access to financial services. The microfinance sector must look for ways to integrate healthcare to their microfinance services. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) can provide health services directly or through linkages with healthcare programs.

Campaign believes that microfinance services provide an optimal place for healthcare. Many MFIs are reaching very rural communities — to say nothing of savings groups, which are primarily a rural financial tool. MFIs have developed trust relationships with families; they meet regularly with clients and can, therefore, pass along information like how to care for their children. In addition, since many MFIs serve regions in Africa and South Asia where child mortality rates are the highest, a strong focus on healthcare will allow these organizations to directly combat this issue in the most afflicted regions.

Microfinance clients must also have access to good healthcare in order to run their businesses, and a healthy lifestyle begins at birth. In the “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies: Kalinga kay Inay” project, microfinance clients are learning simple but important lessons like the food and nutritional supplements that pregnant and young women need and the importance of giving birth in a health facility. They are attending community health fairs organized by CARD MRI and partners, receiving free gynecological exams, urinalysis, and vitamins and supplements to improve their chances of delivering a healthy baby.

70 percent of maternal and child deaths now concentrated in just 16 countries, health and non-health investments such as sanitation, education, infrastructure and gender equality can potentially double the impact on lives saved.

70 percent of maternal and child deaths are now concentrated in just 16 countries. Investments in sanitation, education, infrastructure, and gender equality can potentially double the impact on lives saved. Go to the Newborn Survival Map to learn more.

Integrating health and microfinance services will also support the efforts of the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which are set to be approved at the Sustainable Development Summit September 25 to 27. The ambitious Goal 3 (“Good health and well-being”) includes ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age by reducing child mortality to 20 or fewer deaths per 1000 births by 2030. It also seeks to reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention, treatment, and promotion of mental health and well being.

There also efforts underway in the United States to maximize future investments by US Agency for International Development (USAID). To reach the goal of ending preventable child and maternal deaths by 2035, USAID has set bold, intermediate goals of saving 15 million child lives and 600,000 women’s lives by 2020. RESULTS, a grassroots advocacy organization, is lobbying for bipartisan legislation that will provide strong congressional oversight and ensure that “returns [are] measured in lives saved and healthy, prosperous communities.” (See the Fact Sheet.)

“We now have the chance to end these needless deaths in our lifetime,” said Joanne Carter, executive director of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund (our parent organization). “The science shows we have the tools. That means in 2035 a child born in the poorest setting could have the same chance of reaching her fifth birthday as a child born in the richest.”

Post-MDG 3: Achieve gender equality to tackle the root causes of poverty

Millennium Development Goals: 2015 Progress Chart
Published articles to date: Introduction | MDG 1 | MDG 2 | MDG 3 | MDG 4

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The United Nations recently issued The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015, the latest assessment of progress towards the eight MDGs. In short, they have had mixed results. This article is part of a blog series reflecting on the MDGs and the U.N. report. These are produced in partnership with our colleagues at RESULTS (our parent organization).

MDG 3 is focused on gender equality and empowering women. Many MFIs are actively working to address gender inequality and to empower women in their own corner of the world. A dozen organizations have so far made a Campaign Commitment specifically targeting women. For example, Grama Vidiyal launched a Commitment will help 500,000 clients in India with their Health Service and Development Program that provides sanitary napkins for women. Crecer (Bolivia) committed to continue to prioritize services for female clients. CRECER has 152,000 clients and will grow 3 percent per year to reach 166,000 clients by the end of 2017 while maintaining a rate of 80 percent women clients.


>>Kristin Smith, former intern for the 100 Million Project

MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

From The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

From The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

As the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) rapidly approaches, we are called to evaluate the significant and substantial progress made across the board in addressing the root causes of global poverty. The final MDG report, recently released by the United Nations (U.N.), documents the global 15-year effort to achieve the aspirational goals set out in the Millennium Declaration, highlighting the vast successes while acknowledging the substantial gaps that remain.

The number of people living in extreme poverty, the proportion of undernourished people in developing regions, and the global under-five mortality rate have all decreased by more than half; however, despite these remarkable statistics, millions are still being left behind due to their sex, age, disability, ethnicity, or geographic location.

As we aim to continue substantial advances in reducing global poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or “Global Goals”), we must renew our efforts to focus on the most vulnerable populations.

Target 3.A: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015

The importance of achieving gender equality arguably extends into every facet of society. MDG 3 aimed to address parity in education, political participation, and economic empowerment and emphasized the crucial role of women in achieving the other seven MDGs as well.

At the Council on Foreign Relations in 2004, economist Gene Sperling noted that “girls’ education is an integral part to virtually every aspect of development, and what is just striking is the amount of hard, rigorous academic data that is not only about what girls’ education does in terms of returns for income and for growth, but in terms of health, AIDS prevention, the empowerment of women, and prevention of violence against women.”

Women are proven to be key contributors to large development payoffs such as increased economic productivity and reduced maternal and infant mortality. This final report reiterates that “the education of women and girls has a positive multiplier effect on progress across all development areas.”

MDG-infographic-3

Indicator 3.1 Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education

In reviewing key statistics highlighted in the report, progress towards MDG 3 seems promising, yet further analysis paints a rather dreary picture. While the developing regions as a whole have eliminated gender disparity in primary, secondary, and tertiary education, this comes only as a result of averaging progress with the few prosperous regions. In South Asia, for example, female primary school enrollment has surpassed boys’: from 74 girls for every 100 boys in 1990 to 103 girls for every 100 boys today.

However, looking at the Gender Parity Index (GPI), defined as the ratio of the female gross enrollment ratio to the male gross enrollment ratio for each level of education, certain regions have backtracked on progress since 2000. GPI has decreased at the primary level in East Asia, at the secondary level in Oceania, and at the tertiary level in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Indicator 3.2 Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector

Women still face discrimination in access to work and economic assets, and they lack sufficient representation in public and private decision-making roles. The most prevalent barriers to women’s employment, as noted in the report, are household responsibilities and cultural constraints.

Distribution of working-age women and men (aged 15 and above) by labour force participation and employed women and men by status in employment, 2015 (percentage)

From The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

Indicator 3.3 Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament

Since the launch of the MDGs, women have gained significant ground in political representation. The average proportion of women in parliament has nearly doubled over the past 20 years; however, there remains significant work to be done with only one in five members being women. Organizations like UN Women help focus future development efforts on including women as a key demographic in global development, as poverty remains a heavily feminized condition.

Distribution of countries* in the developing regions by status of gender parity target achievement in primary, secondary and tertiary education, 2000 and 2012 (percentage)

From The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

Onward with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development

Despite uneven progress and persistent inequalities, the MDGs helped to lay an ambitious framework for the long-term effort of tackling the root causes of global poverty.

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development, or SDGs, are intended to build on the successes of the MDGs and tackling problems where they fell short. While some people complain that there are too many goals, they have been designed with an eye toward promoting concise and reasonable actions. Perhaps that requires 17 goals and 169 indicators. In analyzing the draft language of the successor Global Goals, it is important to note the widespread presence of important phrasings such as “inclusive” and “for all.”

UN Women advocated for a stand-alone goal to achieve gender equality, similar to the MDGs. SDG 5 is “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;” this means tackling violence against women as well as ensuring equal economic and leadership opportunities, property rights, equal policies, social protection, and more. This singularly focused goal is crucial to creating a ripple effect for the integration of gender equality throughout the other goals.

Reaching full equality and empowerment for women and girls remains a crucial requirement to achieving full and sustainable development.


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#tbt: The Faces Behind the Statistics

#ThrowbackThursday

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We are pleased to bring you this #ThursdayThrowback blog post, which was originally published in The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report 2005. Microfinance client Janèt Dèval attended literacy courses offered by Fonkoze and shares how her business has been improved. Indeed, it has cemented her determination to continue improving herself and her loyalty to her microfinance institution.


Microfinance stands as one of the most promising and cost-effective tools in the fight against global poverty.

Jonathan Morduch, Chair
United Nations Expert Group on Poverty Statistics

Janèt Dèval, a client of Fonkoze, a microcredit institution in Haiti, is one of the 66.6 million poorest clients reached. Janèt has been a credit client for more than two years and comes regularly to all meetings. She has also been a part of every literacy program available and is about to start the newest module on developing business skills. Not only could she not read or write when she started, but she has had an extra challenge: Janèt has only a fraction of her hearing due to an injury when she was 20 years old.

My husband didn’t want me to send my five children to school because his parents didn’t send him to school. From the beginning, he said he would not pay and he has never given even one goud, but I always knew it was important. For a long time I have gone to Port-au-Prince to buy goods to sell in Hinche, and I put all my money into paying for school for my children.

When I found out that Fonkoze gave literacy classes for market women, I was so happy. I never went to school even one day. I didn’t know anything about school. I started right away with basic literacy and I have tried to never miss a class.

I couldn’t write my name and I didn’t understand anything, but I kept going even when my husband got angry. My kids pushed me and encouraged me and they helped me practice my letters. The monitor, Christa, told me to keep writing every day even when I didn’t understand.

I can write my name now, and I write it everywhere. Imagine, I used to go to Port-au-Prince to buy and I couldn’t read the bags and I felt lost. I couldn’t keep track of what I bought. The drivers sometimes would take my boxes off the truck and give them to someone else, but I didn’t know until I got all the way home. Now, I can’t lose anything. Now I write my name on every box and I know what I buy.

I finished Alfa Baz and Alfa Pos and then I went to the Health Program, too. I still don’t know many things, so I want to keep going. I take my notebook to my school and I write in it because one day I hope to read and understand everything. I bought two books in the market and my kids help me read them.

I work hard in the market so that I can repay my loans, keep going to school and so that my kids have that chance, too. If my parents would have sent me to school, I would have thrown a party for them to say thank you.[1]

The Microcredit Summit was launched to multiply stories like this 100 million times, but a number of barriers continue to impede the Campaign’s success.

Read the 2005 Report.


Footnote

[1] From the Fonkoze website www.fonkoze.org.

E-Workshop Recap: Helping Clients to Prepare for their Old Age

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On June 9th, the Microcredit Summit Campaign co-hosted with the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) an E-Workshop focusing on financial inclusion for the elderly. This is part of their 2014 Campaign Commitment to bring greater attention to the issue of aging and financial services and to further support the inclusion of those with disabilities. HelpAge International and Micro Pension Foundation helped make it a great discussion about opportunities for organizations (specifically microfinance institutions) to help clients prepare for their old age. The conversation looked both at the supply and demand sides of financial inclusion to better understand what is happening in clients’ lives and how best to approach these issues.

Watch the session recording:

Review the panelists’ slides:

Recap of the E-Workshop

Sonja Kelly from CFI introduced the focus of the session:

“Financial services needs change throughout the lifecycle, and if a client of microfinance services reaches their old age without having developed a plan to meeting their expense needs, it will be too late. Almost all participants in our webinar reported that they knew someone who had inadequately prepared for their older age. This common issue is one that microfinance can help to address by developing longer term savings products and pensions either in-house or through partnerships.”

Eppu Mikkonen-Jeanneret, head of policy at HelpAge International, began the discussion introducing the shift in populations and subsequently labor markets, noting that there are currently about 800 million people who are over 60 around the world. In 15 years, there will be over 1.3 billion people over the age of 60, of which 60 percent will live in low- and middle-income countries.

The common perception is that the 60 percent in low- and middle-income countries either will not save for their old age or lack the capacity to do so. However, the Global Findex report, which looks at the demand side data of financial inclusion, shows otherwise. According to the report, almost 25 percent of all adults say they have saved for old age in the past year — though it is predominately happening in high-income OECD countries and in East Asia and the Pacific. “Around 40 percent of adults in these two regions reported saving for old age, a far greater share than the roughly 10 percent who reported doing so in all other regions” (The Global Findex Database 2014, page 47).

Eppu explained that 18 percent of the pyramid base reported having saved for old age and 60 percent of the top. Sonja Kelly (CFI) noted that the question now is whether they are doing so in safe and secure mechanisms.

Eppu  expanded on this issue following the session, saying,
url

“The world is in the middle of demographic sea change; the global population is growing older. This is a result of hugely successful development. We are healthier and better educated, we have less children and we live longer. As a result, in just 15 years the population of 60 years and over will increase from 800m to 1.3b. Far from being a developed country trend, aging is actually fastest in the low and middle income countries. Where it took the European countries over 100 years to transit to an aging population, countries like Bangladesh will do this in just a few decades. In fact, 60 percent of the 1.3 billion people will live in the developing countries.

“We know that people in developing countries continue to work into old age even though the type of work may change. Many work in the informal sector and women especially carry on providing unpaid labour at home. Yet our thinking is locked in outdated associations with people in the 60s onwards as somehow inherently, homogeneously vulnerable. It’s time we embrace the change and take action. Financial inclusion of people across the life course, facilitating social pensions, linking pensions with other financial instruments, and working closely with older women and men will help us all to adjust to the new world.”

Parul Khanna, associate director of projects for Micro Pension Foundation, continued the conversation. She noted this:

“Globally, rapid advancements in technology, telecommunications, and banking outreach have had a powerful impact on the ability of governments to deliver targeted fiscal transfers to the poor, including pension benefits to the elderly. Simultaneously, technology and telecom are reshaping financial services access and delivery, especially among low income excluded households. Most developing countries have a large young workforce, a predominantly informal labour market with modest incomes and savings capacities, a huge pension coverage gap, low banking and formal finance penetration, and limited capacity for large scale fiscal transfers.”

Parul presented their Gift-a-Pension project, which provides micropensions to low-income domestic workers, and she called on participants and readers to take action:
logo-Gap

“Can we do something for informal workers around us…[those] who touch our lives every day? Our maids, drivers, security guards or our washerwomen? Or the guy who we buy our bread from every day? Or our barbers? That seems feasible, right?

“For example, it is possible for you to imagine going home today, and spending just a few minutes with your maid or driver to tell them about the importance of saving for old age. And then spending just 10 minutes on the internet to open their own pension account for them? If your answer is yes, then you have within you the power to gift 20 years of a dignified old age to your maid or driver. And if all did this, we could collectively, as a civil society, change the lives of 40 million domestic help forever. Which, incidentally, is more than the total population of Canada.

It took India 6 years to get 3 million low-income people to start a pension account. If each of us go home today and gift a pension to just 1 excluded person in our lives, we could reach from 3 million to 43 million by this weekend!  After all, just 10 minutes of your time can change 20 years of someone else’s life. You can be the change! Try now with Gift-a-Pension.


Thank you to all panelists for contributing to this important conversation about the importance of saving for old age and how organizations can simplify the process for their clients. We also wish to thank all participants who submitted thought-provoking questions and comments to help make the session interactive!

Related resources:

Film on the micro pension model

About Gift-A-Pension


CFI launched a Campaign Commitment in 2014! We invite you also to…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

Join the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Engaging men and boys for gender equality

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Adolescent girls in a BRAC Tanzania program. Photo credit: BRAC Tanzaniz

Adolescent girls in a BRAC Tanzania program. Photo credit: BRAC Tanzaniz


>>Authored by Sabina Rogers, Manager, Communications and Relationships

If we are to achieve the World Bank’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 — or even our own goal of helping 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty — we have to tackle the issue of gender inequality. The recent review of microcredit RCTs shows, on average, a surprising lack of positive effect on women’s empowerment.

Though, there are some promising findings. For example, it seems that the effects of microcredit diffuse across multiple outcome, so it’s hard to detect what the actual effect is on women’s empowerment. Also, the study in Mexico found some small but significant increase in female decision power.

Are we satisfied with “small but significant”? Microfinance has long claimed that it was empowering women; indeed, the third core theme of our campaign, approved alongside the original goal in 1997, is “empowering women.” If the RCT review is to be taken at face value, let’s now ask ourselves what can we do better, or, what are we not doing that we should?

Engaging men and boys

A 2007 report prepared by the World Health Organization in collaboration with Instituto Promudo, Engaging men and boys in changing gender-based inequity in health, (an analysis of data from 58 evaluation studies) suggests that the problem may be that we are excluding men in the equation.[1] The report summarizes the situation thusly:

The social expectations of what men and boys should and should not do and be directly affect attitudes and behaviour related to a range of health issues. Research with men and boys has shown how inequitable gender norms influence how men interact with their partners, families and children on a wide range of issues, including preventing the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive use, physical violence (both against women and between men), domestic chores, parenting and their health-seeking behaviour.[2]

If microcredit programs (microfinance institutions, savings groups, and other organizations in the world of “microcredit”) wish to empower their target beneficiaries, namely women, what are they doing to counter these social expectations?

A new campaign launched by UN Women in 2014 called HeForShe is calling on us to unify our efforts. “HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all.” Emma Watson, better known as Hermione Granger in the fabulous Harry Potter movies, is Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women and the face of this campaign.

“We want to end gender inequality,” Watson said, “And we want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for change. And, we don’t just want to talk about it. We want to try and make sure its tangible.”

What actions do we need to take?

If you just look at intimate partner violence (IPV), for example, studies show that men perpetrate their first act of sexual violence before the age of 18 and many men will not stop at just once. Further, IPV “is more common in settings where social norms condone or ignore men’s sexually coercive or aggressive behaviors (Katz 2006; Schwartz and DeKeseredy 2008)” [3] and it is shaped by gender inequality, harmful paradigms of what it means to be “masculine,” and experiencing violence as a child.

Therefore, while we obviously need to work with men, it is essential that boys are included in programs, opening an honest dialogue discussing issues of gender and masculinity. The key features of successful interventions, according to the WHO report, are as follows:

  • Use positive and affirmative messages;
  • Encourage men to reflect on the costs of hegemonic masculinity to men and women;
  • Are evidence-based and theoretically informed, i.e., they use formative research, begin with or develop a theory of change, and carry out ongoing monitoring and evaluation;
  • Recognize that men are not homogenous and develop interventions that reflect men’s different life experiences;
  • Use an ecological approach that recognizes the range of factors shaping gender roles and relations; and
  • Use a range of social change strategies — community education, community mobilization, media, policy development, and advocacy for implementation.[4]
Photo credit: Giorgia Bonaga & Shamimur Rahman

Photo credit: Giorgia Bonaga & Shamimur Rahman

The key findings from the 2007 WHO report are as follows:

Well-designed programs with men and boys show compelling evidence of leading to change in behavior and attitudes. They even come to question violence with other men and their health-seeking behavior as a result of relatively short-term programs. But, how effective were they? Two-thirds were effective or promising and the final third were unclear.

Programs rated as being gender-transformative had a higher rate of effectiveness. It appears that (perhaps unsurprisingly) deliberate discussion of gender and masculinity and clear efforts to transform such gender norms were more effective than simply acknowledging gender norms.

Integrated programs and programs that embedded in community outreach, mobilization, and mass-media campaigns show more effectiveness in producing behavior change. Unsurprisingly, informing and engaging social institutions, gatekeepers, community leaders, and other influencers were key to the success of gender equity programs

However, relatively few of these programs are scaled-up or long-term. Indeed, only about 10 of the 58 programs included in the review represent long-term efforts to engage men and communities or scale up the relatively limited scope and short-term interventions.

What does this means for microfinance institutions, NGOs that support savings groups and self-help groups, and other financial service providers that aim to empower women? Is it realistic to ask a financial service provider to engage men and boys in a “well-designed” program in order to effect behavior change and gender equality? Is this something that they can take on?

Tell of your experience in the comments below.


How you can get involved

There is a great deal of research into such solidarity-based initiatives — both programs and government policies — beyond the 2007 WHO review of evaluation studies that is building on our knowledge base. We encourage you to take a look at Instituto Promudo’s resource library and the HeForShe Action Kit  (it’s available in 7 languages; here it is in English). And follow HeForShe on Twitter (@HeForShe) and Promundo (@Promundo_US).


 

Related reading


Footnotes

[1] The WHO report focuses more on whether the evaluated programs have taken a gender perspective into account in their work with men and boys and how and whether these programs have been able to measure changes in the attitudes and behavior of men and boys as a result of the intervention. The review assessed the effectiveness of programs seeking to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality and equity in health. The research was driven by the following questions:

What is the evidence on the effectiveness of programs engaging men and boys in sexual and reproductive health; HIV prevention, treatment, care and support; fatherhood; gender-based violence; maternal, newborn and child health; and gender socialization?

  • How effective are these programs?
  • What types of programs with men and boys show more evidence of effectiveness?
  • What gender perspective should be applied to men and boys in health programs?
  • Does applying a gender perspective to work with men and boys lead to greater effectiveness in terms of health outcomes?

This review suggests several key questions as the engaging of men and boys moves forward:

  • How can programs take a more relational perspective, integrating efforts to engage men and boys with efforts to empower women and girls?
  • What is the evidence on the impact of such relational perspectives?
  • In which cases is working solely with men and boys (or solely with women and girls) useful and in which cases is working with men and women together useful and effective?
  • What is required for programs to be able to scale up and sustain their efforts?
  • What are the common factors, conditions or operating strategies of the programs that have been able to scale up or sustain themselves?
  • Which programs should be scaled up?
  • What kinds of structural changes and policies have led to or could lead to large-scale change in men and masculinity?

[2] World Health Organization (2007). Engaging men and boys in changing gender-based inequity in health: Evidence from programme interventions . Geneva. P. 6. http://www.who.int/gender/documents/Engaging_men_boys.pdf

[3] Dean Peacock and Gary Barker, “Working with Men and Boys to Prevent Gender-based Violence: Principles, Lessons Learned, and Ways Forward,” Men and Masculinities, 2014.

[4] Ibid.

Building resilience for the world’s poor: The $1.50 challenge

Jeff Ashe_savings group women count money

Savings group women count money
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ashe

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Pathway

Savings groups (aka village savings and loans associations)


>> Authored by Jeffrey Ashe, Fellow, Carsey school of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire; Research Fellow: Global Development and the Environment, Tufts University

I read the recent World Bank News Flash entitled “International Funding for Financial Inclusion” [1]. In 2013 a total of $31 billion was invested in financial institution building, but what if just the grant proportion if this amount, $2.9 billion, was invested in training savings groups?

  • 200 million of the world’s poor (equal to all the microfinance borrowers today) would have a safe and convenient place to save and easy access to small loans (@$15 per group member).
  • There would be 10 million new savings groups in place in 2 million villages and many thousands of slum communities (@ 4 groups with 80 savings group members per village of 1,000 inhabitants).
  • These groups would mobilize and largely distribute $10 billion every year of which 30 percent ($3 billion) would be the profits from lending to members (@ $1,000 distributed per group of 20 per year) without outside funding.

This is possible since savings groups are able to:

  • Reach those that microfinance is not designed to reach profitably. Even the most motivated micro-lender cannot make money on $0.50 savings deposits and $30 loans.
  • Require a fraction of the staff. Saving for Change in Mali, a joint venture of Oxfam America, Freedom from Hunger, and Stromme Foundation, reached 450,000 women organized into 19,000 groups with 209 trainers. To reach the same number, a typical microfinance institution (MFI) would require a permanent staff of 1,500 [2]. Only a handful of trainers are monitoring Saving for Change groups in Mali today, with few signs that the groups are faltering.
  • Be promoted by local NGOs. Savings group promoters introduce a simple structure while the groups do the creative work of saving, lending, collecting, and record-keeping.
  • Virally self-replicate. The leaders of established groups train new ones at no additional cost.
  • Be profitable for very poor people. When the fund is divided at the end of each cycle, members receive on average $1.38 for each dollar saved [3].
  • Survive independently. A panel study of 331 groups in 6 countries over 5 years indicates a 90% survival rate [4].
  • Serve as a platform for other development inputs. Members launch their own projects, and disciplined groups with financial clout serve as platforms for government and NGO development initiatives and linkages to financial institutions.
  • Promote societal change. In Guatemala, savings groups banded together to elect women mayors. In El Salvador, ex-trainers are assuming roles in municipal governments.

Jeff Ashe_In their Own Hands_book coverWhat is the potential outcome? A randomized controlled trial and anthropological study of savings groups in Mali [5] funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that when only 40 percent of the eligible women had joined groups, there was a village wide (not only group member) effect. The findings included the following:

  • Reduction in chronic hunger with the greatest reduction among the poorest.
  • Increased assets, largely in the form of livestock that could be cashed in when money is scarce.
  • A one-third increase in savings from all sources, including traditional savings clubs (ROSCAS).
  • The substantial word-of-mouth spread of the methodology at no cost to the program.
  • Increased social capital.

Simply stated, the grant funding from a single year of financing financial inclusion could be translated into a modest increase in resilience for 2 billion of the world’s poorest at a cost of one dollar per villager: 2 million villages @ 1,000 inhabitants per village.

Savings groups work because they catalyze the capacity of the poor to achieve their own financial inclusion when provided a simple structure and a bit of training to do so. They represent a crucial component of a strategy for financial inclusion that also includes savings, credit, insurance through institutions, programs targeting the ultra-poor, and conditional cash transfers. This, in addition to the informal means the poor have long used to manage their finances.

Related resources


Sources

[1] Estelle Lahaye and Edlira Dashi, “Spotlight on International Funders’ Commitments to Financial Inclusion“. CGAP, 25 March 2014.

[2] David Roodman, Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance. 2011

[3] SAVIX panel study of 331 randomly selected groups. http://savingsgroups.com/

[4] Ibid.

[5] Karlan, Dean, Jonathan Morduch, Mamadou Baro. “Final Impact Evaluation of the Saving for Change Program in Mali, 2009-2012“. Innovations in Poverty Action, Bureau for Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA), University of Arizona, April 2013.

MicroLoan Foundation commits to reach the poorest women

Photo courtesy of MicroLoan Foundation

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The Microcredit Summit Campaign welcomes MicroLoan Foundation as the newest Campaign Commitment maker, joining a global coalition of 51 other commitment makers working to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The Microcredit Summit Campaign’s 100 Million Project is building a movement among financial service stakeholders committed to helping to end extreme poverty through: public statements of commitment to action, expanding practices to reliably measure movement out of extreme poverty, and promoting innovations and best practices to accelerate movement out of poverty.

“At the MicroLoan Foundation,” said Peter Ryan, founder and CEO, “we’re committed to ongoing innovation and learning in our mission to reach the poorest women and enable them to move out of poverty. This project is all about responding to client needs with products and services that enable them to overcome difficulties and improve their standard of living.”

MicroLoan Foundation’s mission is to work with the poorest women and enable them and their families to move out of poverty. MicroLoan Foundation commits by the end of 2016, to successfully complete a pilot program in two Malawi branches and one Zambia branch involving 2,700 clients enabling improved client outcomes due to the following:

  • Streamlined products which meet the needs of the poorest clients (living under $1.25/day) as well as more experienced business women who wish to grow their business
  • Improved access to savings for emergencies and planned costs
  • Improved support to vulnerable clients including formal rescheduling of loans
  • Standardization of pre-disbursement and follow up training using adult learning methodologies

Daniella Hawkins, social performance manager, explains their intent:

“MicroLoan Foundation’s mission is to work with the poorest women and enable them and their families to move out of poverty. As early as 2010 when we started using the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) in Malawi, we realised that we could be reaching poorer clients, those living under $1.25/day. We therefore designed a pro-poor loan product which improved our poverty outreach dramatically: data from 2011 showed that 74.6% of clients accessing this pro-poor loan product were under the $1.25/day poverty line, compared to 51.7% of our clients on average. This learning has informed our current pilot, which integrates the pro-poor loan product into a suite of our other products, streamlining our services and allowing clients on different loans in the same group. This will ensure that poorer clients with less business experience learn from our more experienced clients.

Clients who are not able to save ahead of receiving their first loan will qualify for this pro-poor loan. The importance of saving is highlighted to all our clients, and all will be encouraged to save if they want to receive a larger loan, but clients on the pro-poor product will not need to save as much in order to access a loan size increase. Increases are strictly limited to ensure that clients are not over-indebted, and at any sign that any clients are experiencing problems making repayments or savings, a one-on-one meeting with their loan officer will take place so that s/he understands the problem and can facilitate the appropriate supportive response. Clients who have had problems making repayments and/or savings are identified as vulnerable and will not be eligible for a loan size increase.”

Here are the different products offered by MicroLoan Foundation:

  1. Level 1, which is aimed at clients living on less than $1.25/day and/or clients who have never done business: the pro-poor loan product with fewer savings requirements; small loan sizes (maximum first loan is $25).
  2. Level 2, which is aimed at slightly better off clients and/or clients who have done business before: slightly larger starting loan sizes (maximum first loan is $90) and higher savings requirements for clients who want to increase their loan sizes in the next loan cycle.
  3. Level 3, which is aimed at clients with slightly larger, more established businesses: larger loan sizes than Level 2 (initial loan upon graduation to this level is $180) and the option for clients to repay on a monthly basis; the same savings requirements as Level 2 for clients who wish to increase their loan sizes next loan cycle.

The Campaign looks forward to welcoming this new partner in the global coalition and sharing their progress towards the Commitment achievement at the 18th Microcredit Summit in 2015.

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MicroLoan Foundation

MicroLoan Foundation (MLF) helps some of the poorest women in the world feed their families, send their children to school, and pay for life saving medicines. By providing small loans (on average £60) and ongoing business training and support, MLF empowers women in rural Malawi and Zambia to set up self-sustainable businesses. The profits from these businesses enable the women to work themselves and their families out of poverty.


We invite you to join MicroLoan Foundation and…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

Join the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty:

Join us for an E-Workshop on Gender Performance on Tuesday, Nov 11th

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Getting Started on Gender Performance: The Select Five

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Jaclyn Berfond, Senior Associate of Strategy at Women’s World Banking writes about the Select Five Gender Performance Indicators – which reflect the key indicators that the industry should use to ensure they are serving women well. 


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Women’s World Banking knows it is important to measure how well financial institutions are serving women clients and staff, and to continue to build the business case for women.

Last year, we introduced the gender performance manual, Gender Performance Indicators: How well are we serving women? Just a month ago, we made a Campaign Commitment with the Microcredit Summit Campaign to ensure our entire network of women-focused financial institutions report on these indicators by 2015. And today, we are thrilled to announce The Select Five, the key indicators that all industry stakeholders should use to track and improve gender performance.

What is Gender Performance?

If a financial institution is targeting low-income women, it should be able to measure how well it serves this market. If an institution serves a majority of women, it should evaluate how these clients contribute to its sustainability. And if an institution wants to be the best place for women customers, it needs to understand if it is the best place for women employees and leaders. This is gender performance. And data-backed gender performance reflects an institution’s commitment to serving women more than any mission statement ever could.

Why the Select Five?

Because looking at a financial institution’s performance from a gender lens may be new for many stakeholders, we conducted research with the MIX to identify the ‘gateway’ indicators an institution should start tracking to jump-start their journey toward gender performance excellence. Given the many financial and social performance standards financial institutions serving the low-income population are held to, it was important to us that the Select Five didn’t add to this reporting burden but instead could be incorporated into existing initiatives, while still yielding meaningful insights on gender performance.

A rigorous analysis* yielded the Select Five.

  1. Percent new women borrowers
  2. Average loan size per woman borrower
  3. Women borrower retention rate
  4. Women’s portfolio at risk of greater than 30 days
  5. Women staff retention rates

Download the Select Five

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As part of our Commitment with the Microcredit Summit Campaign, we have rolled out the Select Five indicators to our network institutions and have begun collecting data in order to look at our network’s performance as a whole.

From Insight to Action

Based on preliminary data gathered from our network, we have uncovered some valuable insight into our network. For example, we found that while there had been a slight decline in the percent women clients for our network overall, percent of new women clients remained high (73%), demonstrating a continued commitment to reaching women. When looking at borrower retention, we saw that female borrower retention matched overall retention at 82%. We also found that portfolio at risk >30 days for the women’s portfolio is significantly lower than the overall PAR30 for the network (2.79% vs. 4.70%). While these findings are incredibly useful at the aggregate level, we also think that the true value of the gender performance indicators is for our network members to analyze these indicators for their own institutions, and use findings to improve service to women.

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In the next year, we will be holding regional launches to enable our network – and other practitioners – to implement the full set of Gender Performance indicators and gain a deeper understanding of how women contribute to their overall performance and how well they are serving their women clients. If your institution has started to use these indicators, or is interested in doing so, let us know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing us! You can download a print-ready version of the Select Five here or if you are ready to start tracking all the indicators, you can download the full manual here.

As with many things – the first step can be the hardest. We hope you will join us on the path to measuring gender performance. If we as an industry are to help low-income women worldwide toward prosperity through financial inclusion, we need the data to serve them better.

*a review of the analysis, co-authored with the MIX, will be released shortly.


Women’s World Banking announced their Campaign Commitment as:

  • Women’s World Banking is committed to integrating the Gender Performance Indicators into its annual networking reporting, achieving 100% of network members by reporting on the GPI framework by the end of 2015
  • Women’s World Banking commits together with the Microcredit Summit Campaign to hold a series of 2 learning events during 2014 to share with practitioners and other industry stakeholders the value of using the GPI, especially the 5 Select Indicators, to help strengthen financial inclusion of low-income women and ensure we are serving these women well.

Join Women’s World Banking and State your Campaign Commitment

Join Women’s World Banking in the global coalition to help 100 million families lift themselves out of poverty – state your Campaign Commitment at mycommitment@microcreditsummit.org

Need additional guidance in formulating your own Campaign Commitment? Refer to our Commitment Development Toolkit.

Be social with us on Facebook and Twitter (@MicroCredSummit) using the hashtags #Commit100M and #100MGoal

 

Empowering women through the Gender Performance Indicators

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The Microcredit Summit Campaign welcomes Women’s World Banking as the newest Campaign Commitment member, joining a global coalition to help 100 million families lift themselves out of poverty. Their Commitment will ensure that their member microfinance institutions are practicing gender-inclusive policies to facilitate low-income women’s economic empowerment. Read the full Press Release.

WWB_Horizontal_RGBWomen’s World Banking works to improve the lives of low-income women by providing credit, savings, and insurance products to their clients. Women’s World Banking works with microfinance institutions around the world to design services specifically geared towards women. The Microcredit Summit Campaign is proud to announce its newest Commitment: Women’s World Banking to roll out their new Gender Performance Indicators to all of its network members by the end of 2015.

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Partnering to End Extreme Poverty

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“Together we can achieve an important milestone in human history. A world that is free—truly free—from extreme poverty.”
—World Bank President Jim Kim EspañolFrançais Continue reading

Opening Ceremony Sets the Tone for 2013 Summit

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Partnerships against Poverty Summit Banner with logos

Date: Wednesday, October 9th
Time: 9:30 – 11:00 AM

“Together we can achieve an important milestone in human history. A world that is free—truly free—from extreme poverty,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in the opening session of the 2013 Microcredit Summit:  Partnerships against Poverty. In a pre-recorded statement, Dr. Kim urged the more than 850 delegates from 71 countries to commit themselves to making microfinance a key tool in the movement to end extreme poverty.

Watch Dr. Kim’s statement

Read the transcript in English, Français, or Español.

The World Bank’s two new goals to end extreme poverty by the year 2030 and to increase the incomes of the poorest 40 percent “are now the central purpose and moral underpinnings of our institution,” explained Dr. Kim.

9-2_OpeningCeremony_AmandoTetango_205x307_photo credit - Vikash Kumar

Amando Tetangco, Jr., Governor, Central Bank of the Philippines
(Photo credit: Vikash Kumar Photography)

“To achieve this bold vision, all of us will have to work together, including civil society, as well as our public and private sector partners. The many organizations involved in the Microcredit Summit Campaign and the 100 Million Project are making important contributions to these goals…”

This became the guiding theme for our three-day Summit. Through plenary presentations and workshop discussions, participants explored how, through partnerships, technology and innovation, microfinance could do a better job of reaching those living in extreme poverty and facilitating their movement out of poverty.

Central Bank of the Philippines Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, and Indonesian Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs Syarifuddin Hasan joined Dr. Kim’s call for financial services providers to reach the excluded with products and services that enabled them to build resilience and take advantage of opportunities. (Watch the video of this part of the Opening Ceremony here.)

Opening Ceremony_client interviews_597x144After the shared anecdotes of successful Filipino clients of microfinance, Professor Muhammad Yunus wrapped up the opening session to the Summit, joining his colleagues in imploring for financial inclusion across the globe. “Nobody should be outside the financial services.” Professor Yunus continued his interview discussing the importance of partnerships, and how by working together, and learning from each other, the World Bank’s goal of ridding the world of extreme poverty by 2030 will continue to present itself as one that is attainable.

Watch the the interview of Professor Yunus

The statements of dedication to existing and new partnerships against poverty from the many high-level presenters during the opening session of the Summit set forth a strong foundation for the engaging and action-oriented sessions that followed. They also put forth the platform on which delegates could form Campaign Commitments to helping 100 million families lift themselves out of severe poverty—and thereby make a dramatic step forward in doing our part as an industry to support reaching the World Bank’s goal for 2030. Learn more about the Microcredit Summit Campaign’s new initiative, Campaign Commitments, here.

Watch the full video of the Opening Ceremony
Video 1

Video 2

A Declaration in Support of the Independence of Grameen Bank

Larry Reed calls on delegates to endorse the statement of support for Grameen Bank at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit in Manila, Philippines.

Larry Reed calls on delegates to endorse the statement of support for Grameen Bank at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit in Manila, Philippines.

In the mid-1970s, Professor Muhammad Yunus launched microfinance movement, starting with just $27 out of his own pocket he loaned to 42 poor weavers and merchants in Bangladesh. Today, Grameen Bank has grown to nearly 8.4 million members—nearly 97 percent of whom are women—and has lent over $12.5 billion, allowing millions of women and their families the opportunity to lift themselves out of severe poverty. Furthermore, ownership and leadership of this great institution lies in the hands of its women borrowers as 97 percent of its shareholders and 9 of 13 members of the board of directors are women borrowers. Its groundbreaking model has now been replicated in almost all countries around the world and has influenced the work of Summit delegates here today and Campaign members around the world, becoming a highly regarded institution in its nearly 40 years of operation.

Since 2010, the government of Bangladesh has threatened to take control of the bank. This move would undermine Grameen Bank’s longtime success, disenfranchise the women who own a majority of the shares—and, by virtue of that, a majority of its board seats—and even the independence of civil society throughout the country and microfinance institutions around the world. At the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit just held in Manila, Philippines, Microcredit Summit Campaign Director Larry Reed called on delegates to endorse the following declaration of support for the beleaguered institution.

As delegates of the Microcredit Summit Campaign’s 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit, we voice our support for the continued independence of Grameen Bank and continued enfranchisement of the women who are the Bank’s clients and owners. It is imperative that the Grameen Bank Ordinance not be changed any further and that recent amendments be rescinded. This includes ensuring that the borrowers retain control of the bank and that the existing election process of the Board of Directors continue. We will continue to track this issue closely and remain vigilant in our support of Grameen Bank’s independence.

As delegates of this Summit, we are working together to guarantee that microfinance remains a tool that can be used by people in poverty to improve their lives and provide a pathway out of poverty. The takeover of an institution so admired as Grameen Bank is threat to all of us. The independence and integrity of microfinance and all of our institutions must be protected. Thus, it is our duty to speak out in solidarity with the women borrowers of Grameen Bank who, through their hard work, investments, and ownership of this bank, have empowered themselves and transformed the lives of their families. This threat to Grameen Bank is a threat to the progress of the microfinance sector not only in Bangladesh, but around the world.

More than 800 delegates, representing 145 institutions and 71 countries from every continent save Antarctica were present for the reading of this declaration. All were credited for their work to end extreme poverty and create economic opportunity for people worldwide. The declaration was met with a standing ovation from delegates in a resound display of support and adoption of the statement by the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit.