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Executive Summary for March 2nd

In this week’s executive summary for Women’s Advancement Deeply: Canada’s budget boost for feminist policy, securing land rights in the Muslim world and microfinance bounces back in India.

Published on March 2, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Canada’s ‘Feminist’ Aid Policy Gets $2 Billion Boost

Canada has invested an extra CAD $2 billion ($1.6 billion) over the next five years in its “feminist” international assistance policy as part of a package of women-friendly budget measures.

International development minister Marie-Claude Bibeau launched the policy in June last year, but no further money was allocated at the time for the women and girls-focused aid program.

Humanitarian organizations in Canada have cautiously welcomed the injection of cash, but noted that the investment will barely keep up with inflation in coming years, and that the total budget is still far below other OECD countries.

Women’s Land Rights in the Muslim World

Women in the Muslim world face a number of barriers to being able to exercise full land rights, experts told the first ever Arab Land Conference this week.

A report from the Global Land Tool Network, launched at the conference in Dubai, recommended a suite of measures to increase women’s access to land in Muslim countries, where conflicting national and cultural legal systems can shut them out of holding or inheriting property.

The report’s authors highlight the importance of raising awareness around rights to land that women already hold, and ending the stigma against women who assert those rights. Other recommendations included investing in dispute resolution mechanisms, implementing joint registration of ownership for married couples and strengthening women’s rights to use land in cases where they are only able to access it through their male relatives.

Microfinance Bounces Back After Demonetization

India’s microfinance industry is recovering from the effects of a banknote ban, which plunged it into crisis in 2016.

Between October and December 2017, the number of loans handed out by microfinance lenders increased by 61 percent to 6.7 million, and the total amount of loans jumped by 98 percent to 150 billion rupees ($2.3 billion).

The industry was hit hard by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to take two of India’s largest notes – 500 rupees and 1,000 rupees – out of circulation in November 2016. Women’s self-help groups represent a major part of the lending industry, and can rely on cash to repay their loans.

In an interview with the Press Trust of India on the one-year anniversary of the announcement, Manoj Nambiar, managing director of microfinance provider Arohan Financial Services, said women had been worst affected by the banknote ban. “Demonetization has severely affected the poor women, as they were not being able to repay in the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes … As a result, they were failing in paying the installments.”

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