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learn about the year
What is an International Year?
How did the International Year of Microcredit 2005 come about?
What are the objectives of the International Year of Microcredit?
Which UN Agencies are involved and how are they managing Year activities?
Who can participate in the International Year of Microcredit?
How can I participate in the Year?
What is the International Year of Microcredit Patrons Group?
What type of funding is available for activities to observe the Year?
What happens after the close of 2005?
 
What is an International Year?

Since 1959, the UN has designated International Years in order to draw attention to major issues and to encourage international action to address concerns that have global importance and ramifications. The UN also designates International decades and days.

Though each Year has a different mandate, some guidance for the observance of International Years was offered in ECOSOC Resolution 1980 9/67:

  • Years having economic or social themes should be primarily directed towards promoting international development in practical ways.
  • Measures and activities to be carried out at the international level should complement and support measures and activities at the national level.
  • There should be national committees or other mechanisms for preparing for, conducting and following up the international year on the national level.
  • There should be effective coordination of the activities of the United Nations organizations and bodies concerned so as to avoid duplication of activities.

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How did the International Year of Microcredit 2005 come about?

Following is a brief timeline of events leading up to the launch of the International Year of Microcredit 2005:

 
December 1998: The UN General Assembly designated the year 2005 as the International Year of Microcredit (resolution 53/197) stating that the Year will be an important opportunity to give impetus to microfinance programmes throughout the world.
December 2002: The Secretary General (DESA/DSPD/MICROCREDIT/2002) requested Government's views and suggestions on the goals and activities that could be taken at the regional, national and local levels in preparation for and observance of the Year.
April 2003: United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), as the policy advisory and technical assistance center for microfinance of the United Nations Development Programme Group (UNDP), was requested by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) to develop, with inputs from Member States, UN agencies and other stakeholders, a draft programme of action for the Year as mandated in the resolution 53/197.
June 2003: A draft programme for the Year as part of the Secretary-General’s report on the Implementation of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006) was submitted to the fifty-eight session of the General Assembly was finalized. The report is available here.
September 2003: The report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006) was published.
October 2003: The report was discussed in the Second Committee under item 100 of the provisional agenda.
October 2003: A briefing was organized for Member States on the draft programme of action for the Year.
November 2003: A draft resolution on the International Year of Microcredit was negotiated in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).
December 2003: The resolution A/Res/58/221 on the Programme of Action for the Year of Microcredit was adopted by the General Assembly.
September 2004: Report of the Secretary General on Preparations for the International Year of Microcredit 2005
18 November 2004:

Launch of the Year at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

For more information on the launch, click here.

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What are the objectives of the International Year of Microcredit?

The five key objectives for the Year are designed to unite Member States, UN Agencies and Microfinance Partners in their shared interest to build sustainable and inclusive financial sectors and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The objectives are to:

  1. Assess and promote the contribution of microfinance and microcredit to the MDGs;
  2. Increase public awareness and understanding of microfinance and microcredit as vital parts of the development equation;
  3. Promote inclusive financial sectors;
  4. Support sustainable access to financial services, and
  5. Encourage innovation and new partnerships by promoting and supporting strategic partnerships to build and expand the outreach and success of microcredit and microfinance.

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Which UN Agencies are involved and how are they managing Year activities?

To carry out the Year mandate, Member States approved the Secretary General’s Draft Programme of Action [A/58/179] and invited the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) to become joint coordinators for the Year.

In January 2004, UNCDF and UNDESA established a Coordinating Committee chaired by UNCDF Managing Director Mark Malloch Brown and Co-Chaired by Under-Secretary General José Antonio Ocampo to facilitate the observance of the Year, in accordance with the guidelines and policies of the United Nations and the wishes of United Nations Member States as synthesized in the Draft Action Plan of the Secretary General. The Secretariat, responsible for the operational management of coordinating the Year, is housed at UNCDF and includes a core team of four full time staff, augmented by short-term consultants and voluntary advisors.

The Coordinating Committee will undertake specific activities focused on achieving the objectives of the Year intended to encourage, promote and lend support to the activities of National Committees and regional and international partners. The Committee will act as a broker, remain a neutral party and operate within UN polices and guidelines. Click here to see how other UN agencies are involved.

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Who can participate in the International Year of Microcredit?

The United Nations General Assembly resolution on the mandate for the Year [A/58/221] invites "Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society to collaborate in the preparation and observance of the Year and to raise public awareness and knowledge about microcredit and microfinance."

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How can I participate in the Year?

There are many ways to participate in the Year of Microcredit. Suggestions range from providing training and capacity building opportunities to grafting the theme of "building inclusive financial sectors" onto major conferences to writing and reporting on local and global microfinance initiatives. For guidelines and inspiration for participation, see "what’s happening"!

Strategic Partnerships are another way for those committed to building inclusive financial sectors to get involved in the Year, thereby contributing to the halving of extreme poverty by 2015. Organizations and individuals can collaborate to design creative projects for the Year and apply to have their projects designated as Year of Microcredit 2005 Strategic Partnership Projects. Click here for guidelines.

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What is the International Year of Microcredit Patrons Group?

A small group of high-level individuals has been invited to advocate the goals and objectives of the Year. This group represents a wide range of people with a strong commitment to the ideals and principles of the United Nations and the potential of microfinance to build assets and foster social and economic opportunity. According to their specific role and responsibilities, Patrons are working in one of the three groups: Advisors Group, Emissaries Group, and Spokespeople Group. Meet the Patrons Group and hear what they have to say about the Year of Microcredit!

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What type of funding is available for activities to observe the Year?

Paragraph 9 of the General Assembly resolution A/58/488 on the Year encourages "Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and foundations to make voluntary contributions and/or to lend other forms of support to the Year."

Member States and other donor organizations and foundations may voluntarily establish special funds to assist the national committees to implement their own Year plans.

However, individuals and institutions can also donate to the Year of Microcredit, by clicking here.

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What happens after the Year?

The Year will be successful if 2005 is considered one pivotal chapter in the promotion and development of inclusive financial sectors. Considerable follow-up at all levels after the close of the Year will help sustain the momentum achieved by the Year observance. The 60th General Assembly will present a general strategy to maintain the momentum created by the Year following its close.

The Year website will continue in a format to be determined after the close of the observance.

Many initiatives inspired by the Year launched by National Committees, microfinance institutions, students, the UN system and civil society will continue their effort to build sustainable and inclusive financial sectors and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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Aishwarya Rai

Aishwarya Rai, actress and Year of Microcredit spokesperson
"Throughout my travels, I have learned that we can do much more to help women and children who are economically vulnerable. By giving low-income women access to credit and savings, they can increase their incomes, build assets and better the lives of their families. They are able to spend their money on what is important to them: medical care, better food and education for their children. In my home country of India, I have seen the beauty in empowering women. It is up to us to give them a chance and along with the United Nations and microfinance we are doing just that."
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