Investing in women and supporting their rights has become a priority in development theory and strategy. Women bring new perspective to the table and adding their voice to leadership decisions increases the opportunities available for the next generation. Sustainable development is not possible if half the world’s talent pool is underrepresented and unsupported.
Women make up 70% of the world’s poor and yet they hold the power to eradicate hunger in their villages, if and only if, they are supported across all fronts. When women have access to monies, credit, technologies, and markets – they are likely to expand their businesses and contribute effectively to growth and development.
NGOs, international organizations, and civil society have been working with local governments in the developing world to create an environment that enables sustainable investment in women’s futures. They are effecting change via the eradication of laws that prohibit women’s access to land, property, monetary incentives, and economic markets. This is an important start, but it is a mere drop in aiding women. The problem of gender inequality lies much deeper than changing the language of documents – and mere political rhetoric moves the cause forward only with baby steps. Women are still hindered by discrimination, a lack of resources, and fewer opportunities.
Yet, there seems to be a lack of commitment and accountability with regard to gender goals: while women play an integral role in community development, resources of development projects are often distributed to men through continued patriarchal land-reform processes. They can make no inroad when they are denied access to resources.
Data abounds – the connection between women and economic growth is powerful. When women are given equal access, they excel, they educate others, and they become leaders – tearing down the hierarchy that has oppressed them. Persistent gender inequality is stunting development across the world. If we invest women, we can change the current trajectory of underdevelopment, poverty, hunger, violence, sickness, and illiteracy.
The good news is you can help make substantial gains in development now: by investing in women. Each Bright Funds fund contains organizations that are having a powerful impact on women’s futures. To learn more about how these organizations are empowering women all around the world, visit www.brightfunds.org
Photo credit: Oxfam Ireland