“Women are the great under-used resource—we have the power to change the world.” ~ Julie Smolyansky, CEO, Lifeway Foods
We recently attended the S.H.E. Summit (She Helps Empower) in New York, a gathering of women business leaders and entrepreneurs, both established and aspiring. The event focused on women empowering other women – whether it be in the next cubicle, at the playground, or across the planet. A discussion on why investing in women is an investment in the world was especially inspiring.
Panelists Maz Kessler, founder of Catapult; Ruma Bose, Partner of the Innovators Fund and author of Mother Teresa, CEO; Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods and moderator Elizabeth Gore, Resident Entrepreneur at the UN Foundation talked about why women are one of the world’s greatest solutions.
“Men reinvest 35 percent of their income into their family and community, but women reinvest 90 percent,” says Ruma Bose. She added that Americans give more to pet charities than to charities supporting girls. “When you look at the issues people care about, girls issues are always in fourth or fifth place,” Kessler echoed, “How do we get people to understand and feel really passionate about girls and women’s issues to raise their profile?”
Kessler thought at age 12 that equality for women was a finished fight, but it’s far from over. She challenged each one of us to “refuse to be part of the tear-down culture and celebrate and lift each other up as much as possible.” Smolyansky added that we must bring men into the conversation. “We have a global crisis of masculinity and we need a new role model for what that looks like.”
Among the greatest barriers for women are the threat and experience of violence. Maz Kessler noted “it’s an issue that we all experience. It’s something we share with women around the world.” Julie Smolyansky added, “You’re not immune to this, from streets of Hollywood to slums of India.”
The other key obstacle? As an entrepreneur, Smolyansky knows it well– access to capital to start and expand businesses. It’s another essential reason to support women and girls in positions of leadership and influence.
Take Action Challenge
The 10 Percent Challenge: Elizabeth Gore issued a 10 percent challenge, asking us to look at our allocations for donations, volunteer time, social media sharing and other actions. She invited us to consider investing 10 percent of those resources in women and girls.