Wanna help empower women around the globe? Wanna change lives, do social good, help women smash that glass ceiling and have an equal shot at life? Well here’s your chance. You can make that difference you’ve always longed for. Here’s your chance: 6 practical ways you can help empower women around the world.
Hurrah! Women leaders are everywhere: in business and politics and entertainment, in science and technology, sports and other sectors. There are 11 women presidents, 8 female prime ministers, and the head of government in Germany is also a woman. The head of the IMF, and the chair of the US Federal Reserve are women, and General Motors, IBM and Lockheed Martin are women-led. But the global proportion of female leaders is way too small. Women are only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 6.2% of the world’s political leaders.
So where you find inspiring examples of women leadership, please share their stories, shine a spotlight on them and educate, motivate, and inspire other girls and women to become leaders. Better still, step up and into leadership and become a role model to your daughters yourself.
Today’s model of success is based on collaboration – and collaboration begins with connecting people together. When people can connect together, new friendships are formed, resources, insights and opportunities are shared, partnerships and joint ventures are created and solutions are developed.
How can you empower women through connecting? Join groups that help empower women and girls both in person in your community and online. A great place to connect with women from around the globe is the World Pulse community, where women gather online to access, request, or offer needed resources; share information about events; collaborate with others doing similar work; and build movements to accelerate social change.
Mentoring can be a great strategy to fast track success in life, in business or a new situation. Mentors can help their protégées to move faster, avoid known pitfalls and tap into a larger network of contacts, resources and opportunities. No wonder there is such hunger for this kind of practical knowledge, skills and experience that mentoring can bring, with girls and women all round the world seeking leaders, for teachers and mentors to help them.
So don’t be shy. Offer to mentor someone in learning a specific skill, a process or how to navigate a social, business or political situation. You can start by offering one consultation to a girl with a specific question or request, and take it from there.
One of the fastest ways to empower women is help them gain economic independence, and many women start small businesses in order to enable them to have better choices for themselves and their families. However, women lack equal access to financing (loans, investment or debt) or assets that can be used to start or grow a business.
You don’t need to be an angel investor, or venture capitalist, to help. Simply hop on over to Kiva and help a woman with a small loan of $25 (or more) that can help her start, or grow, her enterprise. At the end of the loan you can decide to keep the money – or roll it over as a loan for another woman in business. Easy. Effective.
Studies show that giving back is not just beneficial for the recipients and communities, but it also feels great and has proven health benefits. Giving isn’t about donations of money, clothing, food, or items, there are other ways that are effective. Volunteering is an obvious one – you can volunteer time, skills, resources, or offer to make a key introduction, publicise a cause or launch an advocacy or fundraising campaign. You can start by identifying your favourite charity or foundation that empowers women, and then simply contact them and ask them what help they need.
Women business owners face bigger challenges to accessing funding, resources and opportunities to grow their businesses – and you can help them by goods and services from women-owned companies. Let’s face it, you’re going to buy stuff anyway. When you support a women-owned business you are not only empowering them, but also their entire family and communities in the process – as on average women spend 90% of their income on their families (men spend an average of 30-40%). So its a very cost effective way to empower entire communities.
How do you identify a woman-owned business? You can start by asking. There are a number of organisations that keep lists of women-owned companies, such as your local chamber of commerce or women’s business association. Another great starting point is WEConnect International independently verifies women-owned businesses in 17 countries, linking them to the international “women-owned” logo.
Whatever action you choose to take today, isn’t it great to know that you are contributing to the ripple effect of change that smashes glass ceilings, empowers women and girls and is leading to a fairer world.
Juliet Le Breton is a global changemaker, empowering women to grow their enterprises and give back to help social change.