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According to Juan Somaira, director-general of the International Labor Organisation (ILO), "Microcredit plays a critical role in empowering women — it helps deliver new fund, respect, independence, and participation for women in their communities and their households".

Microfinance is the provision of financial services to the poor in a sustainable way, and utilizes credit saving and other products to help families take advantage of non-risky income generating activities.

According to the ILO, 70 percent of the world's poor are women, and yet, traditionally, women have been disadvantaged in access to credit and other financial services; but microfinance often targets women and, hence, if well managed has the potential to make a significant contribution to gender equality and promote sustainable livelihoods.

On the ground, women like Professor Nkandu Luo of Zambia are championing the cause for more economic empowerment for vulnerable African women.

"We want women to be empowered financially so that they can make decisions about their lives and stop the abuse that comes with being economically powerless, but we also want the empowerment to be total, she tells NEW AFRICAN WOMAN.

She believes that for women to develop a deeper sense of self, they must rebuild their minds and believe that they are not just beings that belong to anybody. They need to know that they enter marriages as an equal partner and they should be treated with respect. And in order to provide better for their families and communities, they need to be able to look after themselves and be healthy. They also need to have a strong voice in all aspects of their lives. Young girls should be socialized differently, to be independent rather than subservient, and to look at themselves as important beings in their own rights. Women also have to see their own talent and harness it, to turn it into a resource.

Adapted from New African. October 2008, p.28

A. Guided commentary

1) Basing on the text, define 'Microfinance' in your own words. (2 points)
2) What impact does 'Microcredit' have on women, according to the text? (2 points)
3) Relying on the text, give three (3) conditions women need to achieve their development. (3 pts)
4) Explain the following statement in your own words: "They need to have a strong voice in all aspects of their lives". (3 points)
5) How can women's empowerment contribute to community development in your opinion? (4 pts)

B. Translation

Translate into French from 'She believes that for women.,.' down to '... in all aspects of their lives'. (6 points)

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