What does economic empowerment mean to you?
It may mean the ability to open a bank account or receive credit. It may mean earning as much as a male colleague. It may mean equal access to technology, social protection through labor laws, and sharing the burden of unpaid work like childcare. It may mean being able to control one’s own economic destiny.
A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds that $USD 12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. Similarly, a new report from BNY Mellon, in conjunction with the United Nations Foundation showcases investment opportunities that could result in an immediate $USD 300 billion boost by 2025. We need to close gender gaps in work and society now to achieve these goals.
But how do we that when women around the world have different barriers and obstacles? Depending where we live, we may have gender-based barriers to overcome. But we can succeed. We are resilient – in spite of laws, policies, social norms and institution designed to create divisions. Removing these barriers and making sure we have access to education training, jobs, fair leave policies, and equal pay is key to helping women thrive.
This month, Women Deliver is exploring the complex topic of women’s economic empowerment. They’re talking to CEO’s, policy makers and women like you and me. It’s an inspiring series, one that we hope you pay attention to and follow.
Here are a few of the dynamic women, and groups of women, that they’ve covered so far:
Anja was inspired to launch her business after discovering that many girls in Malaysia are forced to miss out on school because they cannot afford the cost of menstrual pads. She decided to design a reusable pad that would empower girls to attend school regularly and launched her own company. Blucotton Sdn Bhd (now Blubear Holdings Sdn Bhd) employs single mothers to manufacture reusable sanitary pads. She didn’t have proper training or mentorship so she joined the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Programme to help write a business plan, gain investment, and increase sales. Since joining the program, Anja has seen her social enterprise grow exponentially!
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund are helping to train a new generation of female nurses in Afghanistan. Set up by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, the colleges are essential as a lack of health facilities in rural areas, combined with a shortage of female health workers, means that many women do not receive the healthcare they desperately need. More than 200 nurses have recently been trained and are now returning to some of the most disadvantaged parts of Afghanistan, bringing much needed health care to women in the hardest to reach communities.
Tanzanian teen-turned-tailor Adelina Mwaka is getting a handle on her own health and extending her hand to empower other young women in her community with the support of a suite of preventive services – from HIV diagnosis, care and treatment, to family planning education and services.
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For more solutions that are helping to boost women’s economic empowerment, download the Solutions Panorama, a collection of 100 programs, initiatives, and strategies that were shared at the Women Deliver 2016 Conference by various nonprofits, nongovernment organizations, governments and the private sector.
For evidence and strategies to help you advocate for women’s fair opportunity to earn, and to read more personal stories about women around the world, head to Women’s Deliver micro-site on economic empowerment: http://womendeliver.org/2016/montly-theme-economic-empowerment.