104 Million Women in 59 Global Economies Started Businesses

Womens' Business Social

Womens’ Business Social (Photo credit: JodiWomack)

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April 16, 2013 Gail Romero

“Although the impact of women’s engagement in the global economy cannot be underestimated it is difficult to ensure success without professional business training and preparation. The ability to start a new business is entirely different then actually growing a business to successfully empower a woman economically, grow jobs and make serious gender and economic changes in a community, region or nation.

In 2010, 104 million women in 59 of the world’s economies started small and medium sized enterprises, creating millions of new jobs and changing dramatically their domestic, as well as the world’s, GDP. When women start businesses, the impacts can be monumental if they are successful. They create income for themselves resulting in economic empowerment. Multiple studies and research also indicate an additional side benefit – dramatic reductions in gender based violence (GBV). In a 2008 UNDP study the actual GDP income can be impacted by as much as 7.5% and household income reduced by 4.5% based on GBV. Currently the statistics implicate that 1 in 3 women suffer from gender based violence in the world today. Stopping gender based violence can actually save lives and increase economic viability in entire nations – with women and children benefiting as well.

Another important aspect of economic empowerment is when women are seen as role models by their families and communities. If successful, the family can appreciate social and economic stability and household income will rise. Numerous studies indicate that when women earn income they are more prone to invest in their families, ensure that their children have access to education, better food and healthcare. In turn, those same studies indicate that in many countries men will use similar income advances for personal purchases such as alcohol, tobacco, tea houses, sexual encounters and gambling.

Despite these proven truths, barriers to women’s economic empowerment still exist. A serious lack of easily accessible and robust programs exist to provide resources to the fastest growing source of economic growth in the world – women. This goes well beyond the micro-credit loans initially started by such illustrious world leaders as Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunis from the Grameen Bank and Sir Fazil Abed from BRAC International. Micro-Credit loans for the poorest of the poor, those who live on less than $1.25 a day provide important initial beginnings to start businesses. These are critically important however may not necessarily grow jobs in a magnitude necessary to fuel economic growth, social, and political stability. A much more dynamic level is necessary to steady communities and nations during economic failings.

In all of these programs, there are three goals:
• Make sure that countries around the world appreciate the economic contribution and potential that women present to their economies,
• Cooperate with reducing the barriers that still exist to women’s full and unencumbered participation in the workforce,
• Develop technology platforms for business resources, education and mentoring that can accommodate the economies of scale necessary to ensure more successful growth of women owned businesses and jobs growth.

At the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation – Women and the Economy Summit this past September, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined significant benefits that the world expects from closing this gender work gap. Part of her remarks: are of particular importance as it relates to the robust programs that MUST be employed.
“But that great, global dream cannot be realized by tinkering around the edges of reform. Nor, candidly, can it be secured though any singular commitment on the part of us here. It requires, rather, a fundamental transformation, a paradigm shift in how governments make and enforce laws and policies, how businesses invest and operate, how people make choices in the marketplace.
The transformational nature of this undertaking that lies ahead is, in my view, not unlike other momentous shifts in the economic history of our world. In the 19th century, many nations began moving from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Then the inventions and mass productions of that era gave rise in the 20th century to the information age and the knowledge economy, with an unprecedented rise in innovation and prosperity.”
We are now in the 21st century – a century where women are in the news as leaders, authors, presidents and CEOs. We are in a new century of leadership, collaboration and expectation. We have a constant stream of articles and blogs about networking, collaborating, having it all and leaning in. It is a century where technology and social media can play an integral role in shaping ideas, sharing, educating and mentoring.

We are now in a century where we must no longer “tinker around the edges” but take advantage of our enormous technology platforms and social media to break the gender barrier for work and jobs. We can use our technology for more than posting a picture or following a celebrity – we can, we must, and we will use technology to help mentor women in business globally and grow jobs – for women.”

see the original article and comments here

Gail Romero is CEO and Founder Collective Changes – Senior Counsel MacKenzie Romero Consulting

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Why is it vital for girls to participate in ICT here is your answer!

UNESCO Gender and Media imageIf you ever wondered why it is important for girls to take part in ICT, here’s your answer! The argument is simple, it’s not about changing the image of ICT to appeal to girls, it is a must have for girls in order for them to have a say in their self-determination.

This video from UNESCO, “Women, poverty and ICTs: mediating social change”, shows why it is so important that young women and girls be educated and take part in information technology. Far from the geek image of the past, technology is the way to reduce poverty and empower social networks. The women and girls in this video (the video is to the top right of the page), benefit from their participation in ICT courses in New Delhi in a number of different ways including increased self-esteem and an increased level of self-determination.  In most of the examples in the video, these women and girls are able to support themselves and their families financially, adding to the economic growth of India.  Amongst often horrendous barriers to them participating, these women are working together to support each other to bring about positive change.

Gender and Media

“Women’s ability to take advantage of ICT is dependent on conductive policies, an enabling environment in their countries to extend communications infrastructure to where women live, and increased educational levels.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is transforming the global economy and creating new networks that stretch over continents and cultures.” (UNESCO) see more

Given the recent reported instances of gang rape of a number of women in New Delhi, the imperative for these types of initiatives is growing and there is wide-spread calls globally for a change to a culture that perpetuates such violence against women.

Unfortunately with a rise in self-determination for women, sometimes comes increased violence against them as some men see the traditional male patriarchy and associated structures, threatened.

“Sexual violence against women has long been a characteristic of the subcontinent (both India and Pakistan). Men have traditionally held a dominant position in society. When and where their dominance has been challenged or threatened, they have turned to harming innocent women.

At the same time, the people who are supposed to prevent such incidents from taking place (the police and state agencies) are usually controlled and run by men, creating a closed loop of dominance, violence and subjugation.” (The Big Picture, December 31, 2012)

Reuters reported that;

“New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011. (Reuters 29 December 2012).”

Whether the reports are acted on by police or not, there is an enormous cost to the nation in dealing with rape crime with the cost of hospitalization for victims, any resulting prison for offenders, the cost of policing and the resulting cost of losing lives through death or non productive life as a result.