International Women’s Day 2020: Celebrating Inspiring Women

The women TechnoServe works with around the world represent thousands of inspirational stories. To mark International Women’s Day, we asked some of them about the challenges they face, their hopes for the future, and their advice to the next generation of women.

It’s no secret that women face immense challenges when it comes to unlocking economic opportunities. On average, women around the globe earn 23% less than men, and that number is even higher in many developing countries. Women are often excluded from formal markets and have less access to important resources, including land, finance, and education. But despite these challenges, women have managed to forge their own paths to success, creating ripples of impact throughout their families and communities.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, as the world marks both the tremendous achievements of women and the tremendous progress still to be made, we asked women in TechnoServe programs in Benin, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Kenya to share their views on women’s empowerment.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a woman? What are the biggest challenges women in your community face?

I come from a mining community, so the atmosphere, in general, is quite sexist. The challenge is changing the existing sexist look. I think the new generations are already doing that. Young people will be able to change this situation, creating more opportunities for women to grow and empower themselves in their lives — both personally and at work.”
— Maribel del Carmen Guzmán Neira, EmpleaT program, Chile

The biggest challenges I face relate to succeeding in an unfavorable socio-cultural context and finding balance between family and professional life.”
— Loveline Senou, BeniBiz program, Benin

The machismo culture, because that’s why it’s believed that women are only fit to do certain kinds of tasks. The hardest thing is that not only do men reflect it, but sometimes even the women themselves.”
— Osiris Castro, CRECE tu Empresa program, El Salvador

What changes would you make in your community to improve the lives of women?

I would integrate into our basic education system modules to teach young children the social equality of women and men. I would also include modules on financial education.”
— Trinité Aballo, BeniBiz program, Benin

The main changes to improve women’s lives are to create more spaces for them, for their full development. In doing so, they will feel free and grow in all areas and can also get out of their daily routine.”
— Mariluz del Pilar Rojas Rojas, EmpleaT program, Chile

I think one of the biggest changes we can make is giving more women opportunities to get out of their comfort zone. We need to help them understand that you have to continue studying even if you have a career and motivate them to continue improving.”
— Alejandra Flores, CRECE tu Empresa program, El Salvador

What is one piece of advice you would give to future generations of young women?

The greatest advice I can give to future generations of women is to always continue on the path of empowerment. I also advise you never to miss the opportunity to learn and grow, because education is the great door that opens up many opportunities in life.”
— Maribel del Carmen Guzmán Neira, EmpleaT program, Chile

The advice I would give to the next generation of women is to seek your way to true happiness, and as soon as you find it, be ready to make sacrifices.”
— Trinité Aballo, BeniBiz program, Benin

My advice for young women is that there is no work labeled male or female. I think as women, we tend to put up barriers for ourselves not knowing how much potential we have. I work hard to make sure my children have a better life than I did.”
— Jessica Muhambe, Young Women in Enterprise program, Kenya

Invest in the hardworking women we serve.