On one of my trips to Africa in 2009, where I visited the cotton farmers in Mali, I wondered how we could be offering the best help from the West. I heard harrowing stories of women who picked cotton or grow their own piece of land that had no money to buy new seeds or to purchase food or uniforms for their children, schoolbooks and clothes also. If they have the money in their hands, this money does not benefit the children, but it is drunk by their husbands. In this type of keeping your money is of a big problem, women are not independently can manage their own money or income.
While listening to these stories, I thought back to the 70s, it was common practice in the Netherlands for women to manage their own account. This was often a first step to get a grip on their lives after the death of their partner or a divorce and since women continue to work after having children, made a bank account indispensable.
During my visit to the cotton farmers in Mali, I entered into a discussion on “Women Empowerment”. It was the director of the Fairtrade cooperation who let me know, if we want really to help, we had to donate an amount to open open bank accounts women to get their empowerment. Together with a group of companies in Holland we raise a project. After this, we raise for 190 female cotton farmers money to open the bankaccounts. It was a small project but there is a positive and sustainable impact;
– It allows them to receive their money faster and safer for the crops of the trader.
– The Fairtrade premium is paid afterwards, can be credited faster.
– Opportunity to get back to receive a credit to buy seeds.
– They can also decide how the money is spent. The money stays in-house and can’t be drunk by their partner.
Access to a bank account for us in the rich West so common. The impact of this, we often do not realize. But imagine for this not to have. Our life would be in stop. Till today, I’m so proud working on this project in 2011!