Mercy Corps Europe

Empowering Women to Combat Poverty in the Central African Republic

This project is working to strengthen local women's organisations, to prevent violent and harmful traditional practices against women, and to train women to help them generate livelihoods and break out of the cycle of poverty.

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Registered Charity in Scotland (SC030289)




  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Human Rights/AdvocacyHuman Rights/Advocacy
  • Poverty Alleviation/ReliefPoverty Alleviation/Relief


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • OtherOther



The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 171 out of 177 on the 2007/2008 UNDP Human Development Index. Identified as one of the 8 United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women are ‘effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.’ Mercy Corp’s vital Women’s Empowerment programme is now in urgent need of funding in order to continue its essential development work. The need • Gender inequality in CAR is pervasive. Illiteracy is higher among women (68%) than men (46%), and fewer girls (37%) attend primary school than boys (44%). • Women are disproportionately affected by the AIDS epidemic; nearly twice as many women (7.8%) as men (4.3%) are HIV-positive. • An alarming number of women have been subjected to sexual violence, including 14.2% of urban women and 9.5% of rural women. • Domestic abuse is widespread with 8 out of 10 women interviewed during a Mercy Corps/OFCA joint assessment mission to in July 2008, reportedly beaten by their husbands. • Women’s economic, social, and political activities are severely restricted by a number of social, political, legal, and cultural practices, which limit women’s access to credit, legal control over the management of resources and assets and participation in public decision-making and politics. • There are laws in place, notably the National Assembly law of 2006, protecting women against violence and harmful traditional practice, but both men and women remain unaware of their rights and are unable to exercise them. • If we are to combat poverty in the Central African Republic, it is essential to address these issues. Mercy Corps’ response Mercy Corps’ project, in partnership with the Organisation des Femmes Centrafricaines (OFCA), is designed to strengthen the capacity of and opportunity for women to contribute to their own and their communities’ development by empowering women and raising awareness of women’s social, economic and political rights. The project will enable women to be effective advocates for and implementers of their own and their communities’ development by: • Providing training on organizational, financial and project management • Funding small social and economic projects proposed and implemented by women’s organizations • Raising awareness of women’s social, economic and political rights among both men and women • Strengthening links between women’s organisations The project will work towards 5 major outcomes: 1. 60 women’s organizations trained in organizational, financial and project management 2. 20 small projects addressing women’s social or economic needs planned and implemented by local women’s organizations 3. OFCA’s network, organizational capacity and ability to coordinate, represent, advocate for and disseminate information to its member organizations strengthened. 4. Campaign conducted to raise awareness about the national law protecting women against violence and harmful traditional practices. 5. A participatory study to identify priority women’s rights issues for future interventions conducted. Funding The European Commission has committed €536,340 of the total budget for this project, conditional on Mercy Corps securing the remaining €178,780.