International Women’s Day 2024: invest in women for development

In Burundi, thanks to the Entref program funded by the European Union, 1200 women have empowered their business. A step towards gender equality and sustainable development.

In Burundi, women lack equal access to financial resources and training compared to men. This presents a significant barrier to their empowerment and simultaneously hinders the socio-economic development of the country, given that they are the primary pillars of Burundian households.

On the International Women's Day 2024 we want to celebrate 1,200 women from 40 cooperatives in Burundi who participated in the Entref project and have since become entrepreneurs in agribusiness and craft sectors.

A woman to invest in: meet Aline Dusengimana

Women's day 2024 - Aline Dusengimana, a woman to invest in
Aline Dusengimana, foto by Sara Melotti for AVSI

Aline Dusengimana is among the women who chose to participate in the Entref project in 2022. Despite her dream of attending university, financial constraints led her to abandon this pursuit and instead establish a small business. Through the Entref project she gained financial literacy and new business skills (production, processing, and marketing of products), she learned to manage money efficiently, and acquired access to financing opportunities. Consequently, her business income increased, allowing her to cover university fees. She is now starting her second year at the University of Ngozi.

About Entref - the project for women made by women

In Burundi, access to education is constrained, with many girls discontinuing their studies after completing elementary school due to familial obligations at home. Similarly, opportunities for vocational training are limited. Consequently, women who venture into entrepreneurship without adequate entrepreneurial or managerial skills often witness the failure of their micro-enterprises within a few months. Furthermore, upon marriage, women typically forfeit their inheritance rights, particularly concerning land ownership. This renders them entirely economically reliant on their husbands and susceptible to economic violence, the predominant form of gender-based violence in Burundi, which frequently serves as a catalyst for other forms of violence.

With the aim of addressing these challenges, AVSI, in collaboration with a local organization K’az’o’za and funds from the European Union, in the last two years has been implementing the Entref project through which it trained micro and small women entrepreneurs in the agribusiness and crafts sectors.

The project's effectiveness lies in the significant involvement of women supporting each other. Through training sessions, women gain valuable skills that they subsequently share with others in their communities, creating a cycle of empowerment and knowledge transfer.

Thanks to the project, 5,000 people have already benefited from gender equality initiatives promoted by civil society organizations. This represents a crucial element for initiating small sustainable changes in community behaviors. Awareness-raising activities like these become a concrete step towards gender equality and towards a fairer future for women in Burundi.

The project was implemented from February 2022 to January 2024 in five provinces of Burundi: Bujumbura City Council and the provinces of Gitega, Bubanza, Kayanza and Ngozi.

The theme of the international women's day 2024: Invest in women: Accelerate progress.

This International Women’s Day, 8 March 2024, the United Nations propose the theme Invest in women: Accelerate progress.

"After decades of progress - the IWD video campaign states - we are at a crossroads for gender equality. As the number of women facing conflict, crisis, violence and climate change soars, as more women are pushed into poverty, Standing up for women’s rights is more important than ever. Now is our chance to build a world where women and girls thrive. Our chance to ensure that all women have income security, decent work, and economic power".

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