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For those not yet familiar with the concept of microloans, here's a quick overview:
Financial institutions offer small loans to people living in poor or impoverished conditions. These small amounts of money can help people move forward by providing them with enough income to, say, buy another chicken or plant another crop.
See this awesome video below for a short introduction to microfinance:
As mentioned in the video above, women are prominent in the microfinance movement. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), "Poor women in particular benefit from microfinance services. Women's status, both in their homes and in their communities, is elevated when they are responsible for managing loans and savings. The ability to generate and control their own income can further empower poor women."
“Research shows that credit extended to women has a significant impact on their families' quality of life, especially their children.”- IFAD
Not only do these loans empower individuals to pull themselves out of poverty, the microfinance model is also planet-conscious. According to Scientific American, "Example after example over the last three decades have proven the concept that when poor people are given opportunities to earn a living in a legitimate and sustainable fashion, they have little or no need to pillage their surrounding natural resources to shelter or feed themselves. Also, most of the financial institutions involved in microfinance hold up sustainability as a precondition for awarding loans. Others encourage greener businesses by offering lower interest rates to borrowers with sustainability-oriented plans."
It is becoming increasingly clear that the impacts of climate change, pollution, poor waste management, and other environmental problems must be part of the long-term approach to economic development.- Microfinance Gateway
As we're previously explored here at 1 Million Women, there is a massive link between poverty and environmental damage. Indeed, the United Nations has stated, "The links between poverty reduction and environmental sustainability are fundamentally important for the well-being of current and future generations."
If you're living below the poverty line, you're less likely to have the spending power to invest in clean energy such as solar and wind, and more likely to be using wood and coal-burning stoves for heat and cooking.
This goes to show that social change is a fundamental part of environmental action, and vice versa. It's easy to pretend that climate change exists in isolation, but in reality it is connected to politics, society, employment, poverty and health. Fighting climate change is in our common interest. By righting this wrong, we will see a dramatic change on a whole range of issues.
Microfinance is just one tool in our collective armoury to combat the threat of climate change. If we can empower individuals from all walks of life and in every part of the world to work together for a sustainable future, we might just have a chance at creating a better future.
READ THIS NEXT: What will your personal climate legacy be?
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