The challenging path of rural women

  • Guaranteeing rural women access to productive resources empowers women and contributes to reducing hunger and poverty in the world, according to the United Nations.
  • Over 140,000 vulnerable rural entrepreneurs in Latin America receive loans from the BBVA Microfinance Foundation to improve their life and that of their families. 59% work in the retail trade and 25% in agricultural activities.

Women are the mainstay of the household and dedicate many more hours to the care of the family than men. This leads to hours of unpaid work, higher unemployment rates, lower salaries for the same work and additionally, when they run their own enterprises, they have more trouble accessing financial services.

This situation can become drastic for poorer women. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) in its report Social Panorama in Latin America 2015: “It is precisely the poorest women who have the greatest difficulty in joining the world markets, posing a key obstacle for overcoming poverty”.

The International Day of Rural Women has been commemorated since 2008 and was established by the UN General Assembly, which states: “Bearing in mind that 76% of the extreme poor live in rural areas, ensuring rural women’s access to productive agricultural resources contributes to decreasing world hunger and poverty”.

The BBVA Microfinance Foundation supports rural entrepreneurs in the Latin American region, where it has a group of microfinance banks that serve a total of 1.8 million vulnerable people. This non-profit institution uses a model of customized service that brings financial services (loans, insurance, savings and others) to homes/businesses and training for the growth of their businesses.

60% of the customers receiving loans are women, and 27% of them –141,353– live in rural areas. Most work in the retail trade and only 25% work in agricultural activities, as opposed to 46% of men. In spite of their greater vulnerability, they make more progress: their sales grow by 26% year-on-year compared to 22% for urban customers.