Women in Transition Out of Poverty: A Guide to Effective Practice in Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods through Enterprise Development

Women and Economic Development Consortium

Year: 2002

Women in transition out of poverty create their own success, transforming all aspects of their lives by moving out of crisis management and dependency, building long-term goals, and pursuing livelihood strategies through the development of a range of assets. Enterprise development work, when done effectively, becomes a powerful leverage point for both social change and economic development. The role of practitioners is to offer enterprise development programming as a platform for personal change and empowerment.

This paper is intended as a practical guide to stimulate thinking and support decision-making in organizations that might wish to integrate the Sustainable Livelihoods approach into their economic development work with women.

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Part One, Women in Transition Out of Poverty: An Asset-based Approach to Building Sustainable Livelihoods, examines the idea of Sustainable Livelihoods from the perspective of low-income women. It introduces the concept of livelihood assets, explores the context that makes women vulnerable to poverty, identifies the strategies that women use to build assets, and sketches the general stages that women go through as they move towards a sustainable livelihood.

Part Two is a companion to the original piece and completes the narrative overview of the Sustainable Livelihoods framework. It investigates the connections between women’s stages of transformation and the design of economic development programs. Some practical strategies, techniques and tools are offered to support organizations in strengthening or implementing a Sustainable Livelihood approach in their work. It concludes with a discussion of the policy and funding implications of this approach