Women and their livelihoods are at the center of the community-based work of Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. (AKF USA). Whether it is teaching business skills to entrepreneurs, offering formal education to health workers or training mothers to better care for the health needs of their families, AKF USA understands the critical role women play in improving conditions within their communities. The Foundation takes a proactive approach to empowering women by supporting professions that are vital to their well-being and progress of their societies, such as nursing, midwifery, teaching and farming.
Like many entrepreneurs, Marina Gazina had big dreams to grow her tiny business into a profitable enterprise. But in the Kyrgyz Republic, the struggling economy provided her few opportunities to expand her small bakery.
Through an Aga Khan Foundation rural development program, Marina Gazina participated in training sessions that taught her new baking techniques and business skills. Not only did she improve her income and expand her business, but she also benefited the community by training other women in the skills she learned.
AKF USA understands that it is not only about empowering women but also promoting gender equality in locally appropriate ways – making sure women and men enjoy the same opportunities to realize their full potential and gain access and benefit from resources and services. The Foundation's experience has shown that promoting gender equality helps maximize its contribution to development.
Marina’s thriving business enables her to supply local children with a healthy school meal. She also learned to train others and pass along her baking knowledge and business savvy to other village women who also dream for success in business. Of course, Marina has not stopped dreaming her big dreams. She plans to buy her shop so she can stop renting and have a truly sustainable business.
Learn how Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. places women and girls in the forefront through stories like Marina's in the Kyrgyz Republic or Zainab in Pakistan who has been trained to help moms safely deliver babies. There are tens of thousands more women like them who with expanded opportunities bring greater hope and security to their families and communities.