According to Almaz Negash, a leading figure in the promotion of gender equality: ‘…women are often better economic stewards of capital than men. Research has shown that women are more likely to reinvest profits back into human capital than are men. When women have economic power–defined as control of income and capital (land, livestock, etc.)–they gain more equality and control over their own lives, while contributing directly to their children’s development (nutrition, health and education) and thereby indirectly to their nation’s income growth’ .
This statement is something that became evident to In Our Hands founders Roxanne Nanton and Michael Stewart-Evans following a Raleigh ICS (International Citizen Service) placement in a rural community in Nicaragua. One of the outcomes of our programme was the initiation of a women’s group; this group of twelve women worked alongside our volunteers to sell their produce at a fair we organised on International Women’s Day. The money raised from this was put towards the purchase of seeds and tools to produce an allotment. In this allotment the group decided to grow vegetables to initially improve variety in their diet but with the longer term aim of being able to produce a surplus that they could go on to sell, the revenue from which would then be put back into the group.
This is one group, in one community, during one ten week placement. There are innumerable women’s groups dispersed across not only Nicaragua, where we have already spent some time, but also across the world. Each group is formed for a different reason but it comes down to the same fundamental principle that it is a group run by women, for women. As Stacey Gordon highlighted in an article written for Forbes Magazine, ‘we need a place where we can nurture relationships in a way that feels comfortable, a venue where we make the rules, and a private space that empowers us’ .
We intend to bring these groups together under the banner of In Our Hands. By unifying these individual groups we are able to create a network that will enable each group to continue to grow and support not only themselves but their communities.