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Prioritizing the socioeconomic wellbeing of women in the fight against a global pandemic

After months of national and global lockdowns, women have borne the brunt of disproportionate care burdens, disruptions in income and education, limited access to health and other essential services such as antenatal care and looming domestic violence cultivated by the stress, pressures and anxiety that came with lockdown.

Juggling work, running a home and kids is a challenge that women face even outside of a global pandemic; and the pressure further intensifies when everyone at home is confined to four walls. For women already living in dire poverty, the situation presents a bigger barrier tosocio economic stability and wellbeing including access to basic necessities such as food and health care.

For women entrepreneurs, trying to gain ground after lockdown will mean starting from scratch and facingexisting barriers to entry and success in the business world.

However, the odds stacked against women don’t necessarily spell doom and gloom.

Empower Women

In both the informal and formal sectors, it is vital that women are positioned as decision makers in organizations and companies to both achieve equal representation and offer perspective on the unique challenges faced by women.

It is also paramount that organizations and companies set up deliberate initiatives that develop and mentor women for leadership. If your company or business has not started to involve women in its succession, now is the time to start.

Since its formation in 2007, dfcu Bank’s Women in Business Program has been marshaled by a clearly defined cause; to create a business enabling environment for women entrepreneurs, with a special focus on small and medium enterprises. Women under this program have access to financial literacy training that is geared towards helping them overcome financial barriers while supporting them in their quest for growth.

Representation Matters

In 2012, dfcu Bank set up a 5-member Women Business Advisory Council to assist both the Board and Management in reaching out to its female customers and stakeholders with solutions tailored to meet their unique needs. dfcu became the first institution to initiate and launch its own Women in Business Advisory Council, setting a new tone in the Ugandan market. Today, we are supporting over 200,000 women through this program.

If women are to take charge of their financial destiny, it’s imperative that there are fellow women in a position to effect policy, organizational and community changes and this can only happen when they’re given seats at decision-making tables.

Segmentation for Precision

While women will inevitably share some common characteristics, it would be foolhardy to create a one-size-fits-all solution in efforts to address their needs. Varying socioeconomic factors make it necessary to understand and address the requirements of your market, with the knowledge that these needs will vary as will the resources to meet them.

With the pace being set for the whole world to progress past the limitations created by a global pandemic, it is the deliberate inclusion of women at every stage of community and organizational value chain that will ensure that no one is left behind.

Victoria Byenkya, Manager, Women in Business & Special programs, dfcu Bank

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