Women's empowerment is the process of empowering women. Empowerment can be defined in many ways, however, when talking about women's empowerment, it means accepting and allowing people who are on the outside of the decision-making process into it.
Women empowerment is not only necessary for reasons of fairness and equity, but also out of economic necessity. Greater economic opportunities for women will help to increase labour productivity, and higher female employment will widen the base of taxpayers and contributors to social protection systems which will come under increasing pressure due to population ageing. More gender diversity would help promote innovation and competitiveness in business(OECD, 2011a).
Women touch every aspect of business. For example, they are influential consumers of products and services. One Goldman Sachs study shows that when women’s spending and decision-making power increases, they affect consumer trends, such as household spending for family welfare, which has implications for the apparel, childcare, consumer durables, education, financial services, food, and healthcare sectors. In the workforce, the advancement of women is also crucial to business success. Companies with women in leadership outperform their competitors, with a McKinsey study finding a 55 percent increase in average company earnings before interest and tax.
Once companies have decided to prioritize women’s empowerment, they should define how to support women through their core activities. Companies can focus on three areas:
1. Promoting decent and empowering jobs for women throughout the value chain. Good jobs drive business success by allowing companies to attract and retain the best talent, which provides the foundation for innovation, operational excellence, and stability of supply—all critical to business success. This helps in reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, and better relations between workers and management.
2. Designing products and services to address women’s unique needs. Business plays a role in providing access to goods and services that help women improve their living standards and increase their mobility and potential. For example, Standard Chartered has identified women as powerful yet overlooked consumers who have specific needs in the financial services they use. The bank developed the Diva Club account, designed specifically for female consumers in Africa. In addition to addressing banking convenience and linking to lifestyle benefits, the account responds to customer demands for networking opportunities and joint savings clubs with other women. A focus on women has helped Standard Chartered differentiate itself from its peers and connect with to its female consumers.
3. Working with local businesses to integrate women’s empowerment. Companies based in developing countries that serve as suppliers, contractors, and distributors for global or domestic markets should promote responsible employment practices, including gender diversity, equal pay for equal work, safe and healthy workplaces free of harassment and discrimination, and opportunities for women to advance. In turn, global businesses should work with their suppliers to build capacity at the local level and engage local communities.
Women empowerment quotes
- “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” – Melinda Gates
- "No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens." Michelle Obama, lawyer and former First Lady of the United States
- "Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom." – Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court
- "Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it." – Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and civil rights activist
- "Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas." – Marie Curie, first female Nobel Prize recipient
- "There are lots of opportunities out there for women to work in these fields; girls just need support, encouragement and mentoring to follow through with the sciences." – Sally Ride, first American female to go into space
- "Some leaders are born women." – Geraldine Ferraro, first female vice presidential candidate
- “I am not satisfied in making money for myself. I endeavour to provide employment for hundreds of the women of my race.” — Madam C.J. Walker founder of Madam C.J Walker manufacturing company
- “What I learn from talking to so many women around the world: If you can empower them with the right things, the right tools, they can lift up their family. And that ultimately lifts up their community and their society” — Melinda Gates
- "In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders." Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook
- "Growth and comfort do not coexist." Ginni Rometty, CEO IBM
- “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” Hilary Clinton
- “I always believed that one woman’s success can only help another woman’s success.” Gloria Vanderbilt
- “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” — Diane Mariechild
- Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” — Charlotte Whitton
- “Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head: Not, how can I always do this right thing myself, but how can I provide for this right thing to be always done?” – Florence Nightingale
- “She was powerful not because she wasn’t scared but because she went on so strongly, despite the fear.” – Atticus
- “Knowing that things could be worse should not stop us from trying to make them better.”- Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook CEO, Author
- “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”- Eleanor Roosevelt
- “I want every little girl who’s been told she’s bossy to be told again she has leadership skills.” —Sheryl Sandberg
- “Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”- Anne Sweeney
Fadzai Danha is a consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950 or email: [email protected] or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com
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