Twenty percent of households in Ecuador are headed by women - women who are more vulnerable to the threat of poverty than any other group in society.
Ecuador launched a Judicial Reform project to provide legal services that respond to the needs of women. The law and justice component of the project, which was financed with a World Bank loan, undertook reforms that lent support to non-governmental organizations working to provide free legal services to disenfranchised women. This was the first World Bank-financed project to include a legal aid component aimed at poor women and their children.
The project "Legal Aid for Poor Women" provided legal consultation and representation, counseling, and dispute resolution services to almost 17,000 poor women. It also assisted another 50,000 indirect beneficiaries, most of whom were the children of women making use of these services. Through this program, women gained a greater awareness and understanding of their rights. The evident success of the program inspired other governments to implement similar initiatives.