A crucial part of our project in Madagascar is focused on financial and social empowerment for women. The artisan training workshops are the single most important component of reaching that goal. They provide an opportunity to work with women one-on-one, provide job training, leadership training and ultimately put financial power in the hands of women in rural households.
At our project site in Madagascar, subsistence agriculture is the primary livelihood of the 300,000 rural residents. Families in the area earn less than $1 per day, or an average of $140 per year. Opportunities to earn additional income through cash crops or seasonal work are typically dominated by men. Through our wild silk program, CPALI has been able to increase the household earnings of our farmers by an average of 80% and provide nearly equal earning opportunities for men and women.
The artisan training workshops have emerged as the single most important equalizing factor between male and female earnings in our project. While men's earnings account for two-thirds of the income derived from silk production, earnings from silk transformation at artisan workshops allow women to earn equal or greater amounts to men. At each workshop, artisans are able to work one-on-one with job trainers, receive leadership training, network with other women, and earn independent income.
At CPALI, we believe that putting financial power in the hands of women is an essential step in developing healthy communities. Emerging research shows that women with increased access to financial power invest in education and healthcare for their families. engage in their communities and become more active decision-makers in society. In 2014, CPALI was able to provide 90 opportunities for women to earn income through silk workshops. Last year, we were able to run workshops nearly year-round!