Women in the Global Economy: Authoring Chapters, Advancing Social Change

By: Trish Tierney on Friday, March 29, 2013

In September 2011, I had the good fortune to participate in the first-ever Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women in the Economy Summit. This historic event was driven by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and like so many initiatives launched during her time in office, it was designed not only to inspire, but to spur action for change. As I listened to Secretary Clinton and other dynamic speakers—women who had achieved the highest levels of success and impact in business, government, and civil society—the idea for a book was born.

One year ago, I began with a blank sheet of paper and considered an outline. What eight topics could form a book about women and their place in the global economy? I thought about the many topics and women leaders that inspire me and might also inspire others. As the book’s outline began to take shape, I reached out to a handful of incredible women, some new and some familiar. Whether we’d met before or were speaking for the first time, what amazed me about these women—aside from their intelligence and achievements—was their eagerness to sign on, to write a chapter, to add more work to their already full plates—all with the common goal of making a difference by sharing their experiences.

“Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social Change” explores the landscape of women’s participation in the economy and the key role women’s involvement plays in fueling economic growth through the creation of stable societies. It covers the transformation that has gained a foothold in recent years, where investing in women is increasingly seen as a driver for social and economic development. In publishing this book, the IIE aims to teach corporate leaders, policy makers, and educators best practices, while also encouraging them to promote women’s economic and social participation through the implementation of effective programs.

The book draws its strength from its diverse array of voices, including that of former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, who opens the conversation with a call for “more knowledge on best practices to further our investment in women and girls.”

Later, Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of Women’s World Banking, addresses the progress made in terms of women’s access to microfinance. She highlights tools such as mobile banking as a means to enhance the financial future of women.

Offering a grassroots perspective, Arwa Othman, a Yemeni activist, recounts joining protests in the heart of the Arab Spring in Sana’a, and addresses the status of women in a changing region.

And a chapter on market-based approaches, authored by CGI’s Associate Director of Commitments and Head of Girls & Women Penny Abeywardena, highlights how public-private partnerships are expanding markets, and in turn, opportunities for women as well.

The willingness of the authors to take on yet another project in their very busy lives made me consider just how collaborative and happy to give back most of us are at our core. In fact, I encountered similar enthusiasm and generosity during my conversations with women in Silicon Valley about their experiences as mentors to emerging women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and Africa through IIE’s work onTechWomen. This led me to begin designing an initiative promoting women’s participation in information communications technology (ICT) last fall.

In partnership with Senior Advisor for Women and Technology at the U.S. Department of State Ann Mei Chang, and working with an array of partners from the corporate and NGO sectors, our goal is to build the pipeline of girls and women entering ICT studies and careers, and at the same time, address this pipeline’s leaks, focusing on India, Kenya, and Brazil. We hope to accomplish this by establishing a strong support network of women in ICT, locally and across borders; by offering additional trainings and job opportunities; and by creating a more woman-friendly academic and corporate ICT culture, ultimately improving the retention and advancement of women in the field.

This project is crucial: In emerging economies, the rise of ICT as a new sector offers the opportunity to recast the perception of the field in gender-neutral—or even women-oriented—terms. Breaking the male-dominated bastion is important to attract and retain more women in the ICT field, meet the growing talent needs of the sector, and in so doing, drive overall economic growth. With computer-related positions growing at twice the rate of others, ICT offers the jobs of today, and of tomorrow. The time to build that pipeline is now.

It’s still early, but we have established an exciting consortium of companies, governments, and NGOs dedicated to leveraging our collective ideas and resources to impact women and girls on three different continents. After editing this latest book–and due to our work through CGI, which recognizes the opportunity to elevate and promote women in high-growth sectors like ICT—I’m more confident than ever that organizations across sectors are invested in making an impact. As leaders, giving back is in our nature. And as global citizens, it’s in our best interests.

To purchase IIE’s book “Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social Change,” visit IIE Books.

Crossposted at the Clinton Global Initiative Blog.

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Welcome Aboard iBus – Empowerment on Wheels

My colleague and dear friend has an extraordinary vision to empower young women throughout India. I invite you to take a look at her recent project and provide feedback.
This post was originally published on the Sambhava blog. 

Introducing Sambhava’s pet project – iBus!

iBus

iBus, empowerment on wheels, will aggregate and bring growth opportunities for girls at their doorstep! iBus is in the ideational stage and designed to be applied in India. Hopefully, Sambhava can gather the required feedback, experience and funding for the iBus soon.

The Idea

iBus (can be interpreted in Hindi as ‘bus has come’) is conceived as a mobile training and informational program for girls in India who need extra guidance and encouragement to achieve their dreams. This initiative will offer a menu of workshops including professional development, innovative leadership, technical skills, health care, home-based entrepreneurship and personal counseling to the girls enrolled in the Government schools in India. Government schools cater to the lower economic strata of society and offer basic educational facilities. Students in government schools, especially girls, are not encouraged to fully develop their capabilities and support their livelihoods. iBus, a mobile training/counseling facility, will impart the necessary skills and guidance to enable the girls to create new visions and realities.

The Need

Literacy promotion in India is generally approached not as tool for empowerment but as a mere statistical goal. This turns literacy into an end rather than a means to develop capabilities or make optimal use of opportunities in society. Large numbers of girls in India from challenged economic backgrounds manage to receive basic education qualifying them as literate but lack skills essential for their overall development. Most of these girls are under-employed and not equipped to take on bigger challenges. These girls are not trained in critical reasoning, technological abilities, objective decision making, career development and personal growth.

The Approach

iBus is conceived as a community space on a bus that will be designed to facilitate trainings and discussions for girls, between ages 12-18, enrolled in government schools. Each iBus will be assigned 2 government schools and will make a stop close to each designated school for 3 days every week. Girls will be encouraged to hop on the iBus for informational and training sessions mentioned below and can use the bus at the end of the day’s session to commute back home. The menu of trainings is designed for girls at various grades in school and each iBus can offer a different schedule for girls in specific range of grade levels.

iBus adopts a two pronged approach – i) complement basic literacy of the target segment with facilities to develop their diverse capabilities and skills ii) connect the target segment with specific opportunities where they can use and further enhance their skills to fully realize their potential.

iBus menu of training

• Basic computer literacy • Education counseling • Career counseling

• Home-based entrepreneurship • Personal and financial skills • iBaithak

Crowdsourcing empowerment efforts

There are several projects in India contributing to empower girls across the country. iBus seeks to tap the these initiatives through a collective approach. iBus will establish partnerships with organizations currently offering educational, and professional mentorship, basic technological and home-based business trainings, health and personal education to girls. The iBus approach is to aggregate the scattered empowerment initiatives under a single banner and use the bus to reach the target segment. Rather than expecting the girls to go to multiple training centers or organizations, the iBus will bring these facilities to the girls enhancing accessibility and inspiring other members of the community. Other players engaged with girl-centric issues in India can contribute through partnerships.

Making iBus Sambhav (possible)

Before iBus approaches sponsors and partners, it would be great to hear your comments and feedback. Idea of the iBus is still evolving and you can contribute to make it better. Share your thoughts and be a part of this venture…iBus needs your thoughtful comments before it can hit the road!

Sambhava will share more on different aspects of the iBus in the weeks ahead and is looking forward to the discussions.