The Carter Center, Inc.

Inform Women, Transform Lives: Advancing Women’s Access to Information

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Project Summary

Without information women’s economic opportunities are limited, women are excluded from decision-making, and are unable to hold government accountable or exercise their fundamental rights. The Carter Center has demonstrated that women face serious hurdles in accessing information they need to educate themselves and their children, to start a business, or to obtain title to land. Building on groundbreaking work that demonstrates the impact of giving women access to vital information, The Carter Center will reach more than 10 million women in eight countries, with a focus on the most vulnerable, to make them aware of the value of information and their right to access it. We will train more than 500,000 women to seek information and to encourage their peers. We will teach and mentor 25,500 women to assume community leadership roles, and we will work with local government officials to be more responsive to women’s information needs.

Problem Statement

If we don’t do something new, according to UN Women, it will take 170 years to close the economic gender gap that keeps women (to a greater extent than men) mired in poverty, with less access to education, exclusion from land ownership, and greater risk of violence.There is power in information, which is precisely why it is often hard for women to obtain the information that they need. Without information, women’s influence and opportunities are limited, women are unable to engage in meaningful decision-making, to hold their local government accountable for service delivery or to exercise their rights. Cultural constraints, limited awareness, lack of time or ability to travel to public agencies, and fear are real obstacles inhibiting women from obtaining the information to which they are entitled. Our pioneering work has demonstrated that increasing women’s access to information at the local level gives women the opportunity to change their lives. When they learn about their rights and find their voices, a newfound sense of agency and capability blossoms, as in Liberia where a woman requested information about imposed school fees, only to find out that her children were meant to receive free primary education. Her request opened the doors for all kids in the community to attend school. With MacArthur’s support, we will empower the most marginalized women in eight of the world’s poorest countries to gain access to and use life-changing information to create a more promising future for themselves, their families and their communities.

Solution Overview

In densely populated slums and rural areas of eight countries, we will use our proven model to raise the awareness of more than 10 million women—with a focus on the most vulnerable and historically marginalized—about their right to information and its value for increased economic empowerment. From awareness, the Center will move to action. Working with community-level organizations, we will train over 500,000 women to seek information and to encourage other women in the exercise of their right. We will use creative, locally appropriate tools to support women in accessing information, including use of community radio and dramas, youth networks, local information facilitators, and information kiosks. Concurrently, we will work with local government officials to better understand the obstacles women face, to be more gender sensitive, and to increase their ability to proactively provide meaningful information to women in safe areas where they congregate, such as marketplaces and schools. Finally, from the larger group of capacitated women, the Center will focus on 25,500 to receive specialized training and mentorship to assume community leadership roles and to serve as catalysts for further supporting women’s voices and assuring sustainability. With the MacArthur Foundation’s support, women in targeted communities will have increased power, confidence, and ability to improve their economic well-being. We will demonstrate progress towards this impact as women, their families, and their communities become empowered to seek information and use it to demand increased public services and assistance, infrastructure projects, and educational and economic opportunities.

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Project Funders

  • Irish Aid 2012 - 2021
  • United States Agency for International Development 2016 - 2019
  • Skoll Foundation 2015 - 2016

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