Around the World, Empowering Women Transforms Communities

October 5, 2020


When Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique in 2019, Ana Armando Macedo’s home in rural Nhamatanda collapsed and her crops and farmland were destroyed. The 47-year-old fled her village, unsure how she would support her 12 children.

She knew she needed to quickly rebuild, but she didn’t know how.

That’s where JDC stepped in, providing a grant to Macedo to restart her livelihood, installing solar panels and irrigation systems in her fields. The technology allows for year-round food production, guaranteeing food security and extra income for other household needs.

“I can’t overstate the impact. Before, I couldn’t work in the field or grow food when the land was dry,” Macedo said. “Using irrigation systems reduces the burden of care we have as women. Now we can have a much bigger farm to produce more food for our children and sell.”

In its 106-year history, JDC’s disaster relief and international development team has led the Jewish response to global crises, responding to over 25 natural and manmade disasters in the last 10 years alone. JDC also brings its expertise to slow-moving crises, like endemic poverty, food insecurity, the plight of refugees, or in today’s case, a pandemic.

On the ground when disaster hits, JDC makes sure communities get back on their feet, leveraging the central role of women in their families and communities and focusing on programming and initiatives that empower them. By ensuring the well-being of women and tapping their potential and talents, JDC creates a ripple effect of positive change worldwide.

In Butajira, Ethiopia, Abebech Tesema relies heavily on her five-acre farm to support her family of six. While she hasn’t had to confront a natural disaster, her farm’s harsh soil conditions — combined with a tough selling market — kept economic prosperity out of reach.

But Tesema’s luck changed when she got connected with JDC’s TOV (Tikkun Olam Ventures) program, which improves the lives of African farmers through access to Israeli agricultural technology and training, Jewish philanthropic loans, and new markets.

In just over a year with TOV, Tesema has become a leading member of her farming cooperative, growing an additional 30,000 pounds of crops than she had previously and becoming a “model
farmer” providing guidance to other co-op members on how to improve their techniques and yield.


“With my increased income, I can give jobs to others in my community who need them,” she said. “And with the additional farming equipment, I’m able to diversify the crops I grow and better provide for my family.”

When the coronavirus pandemic surfaced a new set of needs for women around the world, JDC adapted its existing programs and partnerships to meet the moment.

In India, where more than 94 percent of working women are employed in informal roles or for daily wages, many have been left with limited social benefits and protections during a time when they need it most.

Munira is one of those women — prior to the pandemic, she supported her family of five with her stitching business, but when COVID–19 struck, orders stopped and she was left unable to feed her three young children.

Along with its longtime partner, the SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) Federation of Cooperatives, JDC stepped up its operations to reach women like Munira who might otherwise have slipped through the gaps of government aid.

Thanks to the partnership, thousands of ration kits filled with grains and other basic food supplies were distributed, and more than 10,000 people received health kits containing face masks and hand sanitizer.

“Receiving the kits not only allowed us to make sure the children were fed, it was also a source of great mental relief to me,” Munira said. “The solidarity and the sisterhood of our cooperatives are stronger than ever, as we’ve come together to support each other, particularly the most vulnerable. I’m grateful to JDC for never forgetting about women.”

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