Teach a girl, teach the world.
Happy International Women's Week from Farmsby.
The congratulatory posts, the praises and all of that are good, but there is another more important and helpful way to show your love and support for women.
Impact investing. Simply put, invest in women.
A nation cannot reach its full potential unless it makes use of the ideas and intelligence of all its citizens. By simply empowering women and girls, a government can grow its economy and build a sustainable community. According to the United Nations, gender equality is key to unlocking many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), so we need to consider that.
Of course, compared to before, we are making a bit of progress in the journey to gender equality.
Years after committing to action on gender equality, global data suggests that there have been achievements in education, health, and rights for girls. However, if we look deeper, there is a lot of inequality within these numbers.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 1 in 4 girls aged 15-19 globally were not in education, employment or training, compared with 1 in 10 boys. The longer the pandemic goes on, the more this gender gap widen even further, as it happened in previous public health emergencies like Ebola.
There is even a general concern among experts that the pandemic could reverse decades of progress on gender equality.
Young girls and women are potential leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. It is their right to learn and reach the peak of their abilities. Investing in their success makes economic sense and is also a smart way to maximize social impact.
In order to support female talent, stakeholders including philanthropic organizations, governments, and private investors, need to develop intentional strategies that focus specifically on the transition of young women from education to employment.
There is a world of opportunity for young women and the aim should be to value their potential, their experience and address the persistent barriers to their success. Research shows that investing in women around the world produces powerful results that benefit families and entire societies, and also makes excellent ROI.
Some of the most common ways of investing in women are:
- Organizations working to increase the number of women on boards.
- Gender lens centred philanthropy, foundations and endowments.
- Angel investors focused on women-led startups.
- Investment firms that make ways to invest in women for returns.
- Microfinance institutions empowering women in developing countries.
An example of the benefits of investing in women is the Palladium Impact Fund I which uses gender as the core of its strategy. In the rural areas where it invests, it focuses on supporting those businesses that either have high female participation and/or that directly benefit women and girls.
One of the fund’s first investments provided debt financing to Naasakle, a majority female-owned company in Ghana that manufactures shea butter for the cosmetics industry. The investment bridged the gap between rural female nut pickers and global shea butter demand, supporting more than 5,000 women while generating a financial return and growing the business. We honestly love to see it.
The good thing about gender lens investing is that all sectors can benefit.
Empowering women and girls is one of the fastest ways to reap social and economic dividends and the private sector must tap into this.
Even though the flow of significant investment assets toward gender lens investing is still low, the success of those who are participating in it is proof that it is here to stay.
Listen to women. Help women. Encourage women. And above all, open your wallets for women. Cheers!