Women have consistently dared to pursue creative and lasting solutions to problems facing their communities, and they have done so with virtually no support or investment from traditional sources. Imagine the impact women in our communities can do with adequate support and resources. We hope that resources like the WE conference can lay the foundation for this radical, sustainable transformation.
Within the 17 SDGs, over a hundred targets seek to look more specifically into the individual elements within each goal. For example, within the 5th SDG, regarding gender equality, target 5.1 looks to ‘end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere,’ and target 5.2 strives to ‘eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and other sexual abuses, and other times of exploitation.’ Within a world of about 3.7 billion females, 1 in 5 women experience some form of sexual abuse. Target 5.4 aims to ‘recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provisions of public services, infrastructure, and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.’ Globally, women spend triple the number of times men carry on domestic care and unpaid work.
Not only have women been oppressed in much of the world for recorded history, but they have been working throughout that entire time. That is why women can innovate both creatively and sustainably. They have the training of running households, planning events, innovating frugally to supply necessary services and products under economic pressures, the interpersonal understanding of raising children and caring for adults, and the passion for fixing what is broken in the world. Target 5.5 reaches to ‘ensure that women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.’ While the global population is about 51% men and 49% women, women account for solely 39% of world employment. Of the total senior and middle management positions, less than a third are held by women. The stories are far from few when hearing about the individual difficulties of women working in these positions, regarding equal pay, treatment, and managing their job while managing most of their household.
We must look at our current structure and recognize that women should be making decisions for women. Having taken recent measures to combat the economic crisis following the global pandemic, many nations provided their citizens with stimulus packages. Seen for their ineffectiveness in many situations, not nearly enough women were considered during the stimulus planning process. This is a very patriarchal mindset that does not consider the impact of oppression. Women have been forced to bear the brunt of the economic and social fallout from the pandemic, and they have received a fraction of the support that men have. Our society deeply values the ability to choose. Target 5.6 recognizes this by seeking to ‘ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.’ Currently, only 25% of married or in a union can freely make their own decisions about consensual sexual relations, contraceptive use, and health care. Women deserve to choose.
To honestly act as advocates for gender equality, we must first become aware of the depth of this problem. Then we can recognize our complacency and begin to support and promote women. Every sector of life is touched by gender inequality in one way or another. Because of this, it is impossible to achieve the SDGs without the economic empowerment of women. By working amongst the three dimensions of sustainable development– environment, social, economics–, we can change that will initiate long-term growth. Globally, women help sustainable action by investing more of their wealth in their children’s education, health, and nutrition. Women also organize themselves in more communal and democratic ways, which tend to be much more sustainable. Once we show women the support they deserve, we will see improvements in every social sector.
Transitions will be necessary to incorporate women into formally paid employment roles, specifically those that target sustainable development. The current economic, nutritional, and energy realities are stark and unsustainable. So much of this world has been made by men, for men. Let this decade of SDG action be a decade of women as well.
Although there will be difficulties, empowering atypical and historically marginalized participants in the new and emerging business world will be crucial to addressing and solving the complex problems we will face in a changing world. Women have the perspective and lived experience to correct some of the system’s existing oversights, and, because of their marginalization, they have been forced to solve large and small issues with very little institutional support and capital investment. If we desire a sustainable and just future, recognizing and valuing women’s perspectives and contributions is one of the easiest ways to transform our economy’s foundations radically. Here at ICSB, we believe resources like the Women Entrepreneurship (WE) conference are crucial for empowering a new generation of women leaders and entrepreneurs. Recent events have shaken the foundations of the global economy and significantly disrupted international production and consumption. Returning to pre-pandemic levels of growth is only possible through a radical reimagining of economic principles and foundations. Women have consistently dared to pursue creative and lasting solutions to problems facing their communities, and they have done so with virtually no support or investment from traditional sources. Imagine the impact women in our communities can do with adequate support and resources. We hope that resources like the WE conference can lay the foundation for this radical, sustainable transformation.
WE can change the world.
Women Entrepreneurs need to be supported.
With an Eye to the future, WE can succeed.
Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy,
President and CEO, ICSB and Deputy Chair of the Department of Management, GW School of Business