Enhance women entrepreneurship for a better world
Women are crucial for economic growth. If we decisively take measures to empower women in supporting their full participation in society, business, and knowledge management and at all levels we will find lasting solutions for many of the pressing problems we face in our world. Major challenges such as poverty, disparity, violence against women and girls, and insecurity will be addressed significantly. Compared to men, women spend the majority of their income on the well-being of their children, their siblings, parents and family. Raising women’s participation increases economic growth. By ending enforced paucity of women in decision making, we will sustainably and significantly reduce acute poverty worldwide.
Businesses across the world are fostered and nurtured with lot of inter-woven laws, structures and policies. They are based upon cultures, societal norms, educational standards, training and development which are deeply ingrained in the society. Are men and women treated same while implementing policies in a state? Does a woman get equal chances as her male counterpart from credit institutions, from government when she runs her own business? Are both men and women on even footing? Are we ready to treat women entrepreneurs equally to male entrepreneurs, if we are not; we are knowingly stopping our economic growth. Economically empowering women may be one of the most impactful sets of development interventions, both in terms of growth and job creation.
We are seeing this in our surrounding that women have been starting businesses at a higher rate than men. They are opting for home-based micro (less than 5 employees) and small businesses. What started as a way for women to keep them occupied and earn a small amounts though home-grown businesses has become a source of establishing their self-identity. Now, more women aim to express themselves creatively.
Women see the world through a different lens; they are more responsive and aware of problems from the grass root level, therefore they do things differently. They are gifted with the natural instinct of rearing and nurturing therefore they can solve problems differently without destroying much. If we are able to encourage even a fraction more women to turn their experiences and ideas into reality, I think many of the pressing issues such as climate change, environmental issues, pollution, inequality in distribution of financial resources, population growth, nuclear weapons, genocides, terrorism, racism, sexism, fundamentalism, water shortage, power shortage etc. could be dissolved faster. Today there is a greater need than ever before for green businesses and innovations all around the world, we need more women to clutch these sorts of opportunities.
Women have had to overcome barriers from beginning of history; whether in political life or the business sector and these obstacles will not disappear overnight. Women have a strong historical record when it comes to sustainability; we need to see that women get ahead. We need to see more creative solutions to encourage women entrepreneurship – it is indeed need of hour.
There are some countries which are taking faster steps in this direction. Recently, The Vancouver Board of Trade’s President and CEO Iain Black strongly recommended investigating ways to increase the involvement of women on boards and in senior management positions. In order to arrive at learned recommendations, The Vancouver Board of Trade’s Women Leadership Circle solicited input from local business leaders who have extensive corporate management and board experience and particular insight into how to address gender diversity issues in Canadian workplaces.
In 2012, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched the Center for Women in Business (CWB) with the belief that putting more women in leadership roles will bring companies a host of valuable benefits, including more active boards, improved financial performance, and greater diversity of thought. In March 2012, CWB hosted a number of companies and business leaders for a conference to share insights on why women are not making it to the very top. CWB brought together stakeholders and allies not only to share insights but also to hear from the assembled audience about the areas and best practices that merited better understanding and appreciation. Women currently hold just 4.2% of CEO positions in Fortune 1000 companies. At the same time, there are companies that defy this trend. These companies are actively advancing women to the highest levels of leadership, and as a result, they have more engaged boards and greater diversity of talent and ideas, for example Coca-Cola. McKinsey & Co is already conducting a research of Fortune companies in world that practice putting women in the top positions and reaping good fortune. They are partnered with Wall Street Journal for this yeoman issue.
In India, the new company’s Act 2013 requires at least one woman director on its board;under the rules notified by the Corporate Affairs Ministry, every listed company and those public firms having paid up share capital of Rs 100 crore or more should have at least one woman director on their board. It will be also applicable to entities with a minimum turnover of Rs 300 crore.
The International Finance Corp announced via a press release that women-owned enterprises are experiencing an estimated $300 billion credit gap. This needs to be filled immediately. So on Women’s Day this year Google took an initiative with their “Google for Entrepreneurs” it aims at finding new ways to give female entrepreneurs the boost they need in order to play a more active role in the business world. As a result, the tech giant has committed $1 million to 40 startup-focused organizations. With this project, Google is set to promote women’s participation in the technology space.
The World Bank’s program infused $600 million to support economic opportunities for women by kicking off a global project of honoring female entrepreneurs. The gift came right in the middle of celebrating Women’s Day 2014 and it has been accompanied by the IFC, which also invested $100 million and expects to collect $468 million from private and public investors and Goldman Sachs Foundation’s “10,000 Women” programme, which offered $32 million. Goldman Sachs, the powerful Wall Street investment bank, said the partnership deepens the commitment of its 10,000 Women educational program that promotes female entrepreneurship.
Today policy makers in the world are recognizing that they need to advance equal opportunities for women by removing structural barriers. And, once those are removed it will reduce inequality and spur inclusive economic growth. By supporting women’s equal representation in leadership positions in peacemaking, in communities, in politics, in business and in religious institutions, we will build a more just, peaceful and protected world.
We cannot afford to go slow on women empowerment; if we do so, the progress will remain uneven and we will see a further down fall in progress. No country in the world has achieved equality between women and men and girls and boys. All those violations of the rights of women and girls are infuriating. Let us understand this right – we can no longer afford to hold back half the world’s population, we cannot suppress their positive energies any further. The 21st century has to be different for every woman and girl in the world. She must know that to be born a girl is not the start of a life of hardship and disadvantages forever. Together we must make sure that: SHE is safe and secure from gender-based violence, she has Human Rights that are respected, including reproductive rights. She must be empowered economically and in every way through education, she must be given same opportunity as her brother, she must be included in partaking and leadership.
To begin with on home front we must train our daughters to choose the right life partner; an unsupportive spouse is a liability for her creative instinct. We should ingrain in her to be self sufficient while enjoying each day of her life. She has to learn to enjoy her presence as a woman. Educate her – let her study as much as she wants. Help her build her own network. Tell her the importance of entrepreneurship, mould her to be one. Encourage her to take decisions of her own. She must never limit her own skills. Women are naturally good at multitasking. They should be trained to do one thing at a time. Starting and stopping in the middle of things to concentrate on something else is frustrating. Let us liberate the girl(s) in our family to begin with.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there are 126 million women operating new businesses and another 98 million at the helm of established ones. Yet we face a huge equality gap. In only seven countries—Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico and Uganda do women take part in business at rates equal to men’s; in some countries, like Pakistan, they barely take part at all. Even when women are active business owners, they do not utilize their probable capacity. Women own almost three in ten American firms, yet employ only 6% of the country’s workforce and account for barely 4% of business revenues.
Lets us start supporting women entrepreneurs, women farmers, women in households, and young women. Sectors with a high potential for wealth creation such as food security, or export promotion can offer particular opportunities for generating or expanding entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for women. For example, creative industries include a broad spectrum of subsectors; art, crafts, design, textiles, leather, furniture, perfumes and beauty products, food, and even community-based tourism related services that allow for innovative and expanded opportunities for income generation. UNIDO (United Nation Industrial Development Organization) projects in Bolivia, China, Pakistan, Panama and Peru have proven that creative industries can be a means for women to harness cultural knowledge and assets to generate wealth and income. Let us enhance women entrepreneurship and women’s participation in governance for a better and safer world.