A dynamic community development program in rural Rajasthan, India is helping more girls get an education. Indigenous women in Guatemala are investing their incomes in their families for generations to come by purchasing property. Women in Afghanistan are empowered through involvement in agriculture value chains in order to improve the economic livelihood of other women, with measurable impact on their families and communities.
These inspiring stories and others were discussed in a recent webcast that explored how progress is being made in closing gaps in gender equality around the globe.
Goal #5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (as currently drafted) is to, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Gender inequality is arguably the most pervasive form of inequality around the world and a pressing human rights concern. Progress on gender equality is fundamental for realizing human rights for all, creating and sustaining peaceful societies, and building inclusive and sustainable economic development.
At PYXERA Global, we believe tri-sector partnerships – those that leverage the strengths of the public, private, and social sectors – are powerful tools to address complex global challenges. We were excited to host a special webcast on gender equality as part of series of virtual events we are convening to explore the impact of cross-sector collaboration.
Our CEO, Deirdre White (@deirdrewhite), sat down with leaders with diverse experience working across the public, private, and social sectors to discuss how their commitment to tri-sector partnership is moving the needle on gender equality.
In addition to the specific programmatic approaches across various geographies that were discussed during the webcast, Deirdre put this question to each of the guests: Why are “women’s issues” really everyone’s issues? Their responses are below, along with Deirdre’s own thoughts on the question.
Brenda Lee Pearson is Practice Director of Governance, Equity, and Social Inclusion at Development & Training Services, Inc. (dTS), a woman-owned consultancy that leads initiatives in social and economic development with a view to promoting equality and accountability. On the question of why “women’s issues” are really everyone’s issues, Brenda had this to say:
“Gender equality is at the heart of development and a core development objective in its own right. Women’s rights are human rights and a social and economic imperative. Discrimination against women impedes economic productivity, threatens peace and security and impedes progress. Women’s rights around the world is an important indicator in understanding global well-being. Women offer a powerful source of economic growth and opportunity, but often lack access to needed assets, credit, and knowledge. The discrimination and deprivations that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential have enormous consequences not only for them, but for their families and communities as well. That is why we must all be committed to women playing a key role in building resilient societies and driving robust growth. Investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment can unlock human potential on a transformational scale: ensuring that women and girls are on equal footing with men and boys has the power to transform every sector.”
Elizabeth Crowell is CEO of Bpeace (@BpeaceHQ), a nonprofit network of business volunteers who work with entrepreneurs in conflict-affected communities to scale their businesses, create significant employment for all, and expand the economic power of women. Here’s how Elizabeth responded to the question of why “women’s issues” are really everyone’s issues:
“Women account for more than half of the world’s population, but it’s way more than that. Study after study have consistently confirmed that women take the long view and act accordingly. For example, women use their income to support their families through nutrition, education and healthcare—in other words, they tend to invest in the future. By enfranchising women, we are building a better world for everyone, and that’s why women’s issues are really everyone’s issues.”
Maggie DeLorme (@MaggieDeLorme) is a Program Manager at PYXERA Global (@PYXERAGlobal), specializing in integrated community development and global pro bono projects. Here’s why Maggie thinks “women’s issues” are really everyone’s issues:
“’Women’s issues’ are everyone’s issues because tasking the marginalized half of the population with reversing historical inequalities and effecting systemic change on a national and global scale, exclusive of and often in competition with the other half of the population, is an illogical uphill battle. (There are many other appropriate adjectives here, but illogical will suffice for now.) To really move the needle on some of the most pressing ‘women’s issues,’ men must become active champions. We must move away from seeing women’s issues as women’s problems for women alone to solve. We must shed the perception of women as a special interest group only to be courted when politically advantageous. Progress will move only as quickly as the majority of the population does, and this includes men. We must all take part in the responsibility and solution.”
Our own Deirdre White also weighed in on the question, with these thoughts:
“Why are ‘women’s issues’ really everyone’s issues? The obvious answer would be ‘because we make up half the planet;’ it seems that fact alone would make it clear that inequities faced by women affect everyone. Then again, half the planet lives on less than $2.50 per day, and we are hardly inquiring ‘why is poverty everyone’s issue,’ so I suppose it’s not surprising that we are forced to ask such a basic question. The reality is that the success of families, communities, and nations is rooted in women’s ability to be productive. It is overwhelmingly mothers around the world that make decisions about the nutrition, healthcare, and daily activities of their children — those decisions impact families and communities for generations. Women labor two-thirds of the world’s working hours, and yet earn only 10 percent of the world’s income, and still they reinvest 90 percent of those earnings into their families and households. Women are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of the world’s food production; in a food-insecure world, that is a fact worthy of regard, and yet it goes largely unobserved. Study after study shows a direct correlation between greater gender equality in education and employment and stronger economic growth in a nation. At the same time, women globally hold only 28 percent of full-time professorships and just 5 percent of CEO positions in the world’s one thousand largest corporations. Gender inequality is the most pervasive form of inequality, often exacerbating other forms of inequality, but women’s participation in politics where they might affect better policies is anemic: just one in ten mayors, 22 percent of parliamentarians and 17 percent of government ministers around the world are women. If we care about a better world today and for future generations, then women’s issues must be everyone’s issues.”
It was a pleasure for us to convene these thought leaders working to close the gap in gender equality around the globe and to explore ways tri-sector partnerships are vital to their work. Watch a recoding of the 30-minute webcast here, and join the discussion on Twitter using #PYXERAglobal25.
This webcast is part of a series that we are hosting at PYXERA Global throughout 2015 in celebration of our 25th anniversary. As the United Nations prepares to launch its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this fall, we are interested in exploring ways that public, private, and social sector entities are collaborating to move the SDG needle from aspiration toward achievement.
SDG #17 (as currently drafted by the UN) is to, “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.” This goal – regarding partnerships for sustainable development – is, for PYXERA Global, a methodology at the core of our approach and is key to making progress toward the worthy aspirations of the other SDGs.
Please join us for more online discussions throughout the year as we take a look at other Sustainable Development Goals and the multifaceted ways the public, private, and social sectors are driving real progress toward them. Leave comments below about SDG #17 and your thoughts on how tri-sector partnership can advance our shared vision.
Please also take our quick survey on Purposeful Global Engagement. We value your input in crafting a set of principles that guide our collective work.