Education is the Key to Women’s Empowerment

Investing in the education of women and girls is not only good for the economy it is also a basic human right and one that needs to be clearly evident in how governments prepare their budgets from a gender mainstreaming perspective. When we contemplate what the real value of a woman’s worth is to the economy this will largely depend on what country she lives in. There are some countries around the world where women have no rights and are often regarded as nothing more than a piece of property. They can have a short shelf life and can be easily disposed of. They are treated as collateral damage and casualties of war and for those that get caught in the web of human trafficking, they are seen as nothing more than a guaranteed return on investment for a short period of time and then discarded.

Alternatively in other countries a woman is seen as an equal contributor in the decision making processes within their families, their country and the economy. Where her paid and unpaid work is recognised and valued. Where she has the right to vote, have access to equal pay for equal work, education, health care, housing and support, where her basic human rights are embedded in legislation and women’s statements included in National Budgets to ensure that the funding is provided to implement these programs and services. These are just some of the issues that the early suffragettes and feminists worked hard to achieve and sadly they appear to be eroding.

Global Financial Crisis and Escalating Debt

Since the global financial crisis occurred over 10 years ago, the investment in social services education and infrastructure has been severely slashed. Both Governments and individuals are living way beyond their means by overspending and creating monumental deficits. The effects of these changes in the economy have a profound impact on women in particular. While some women still believe that a man is a woman’s best financial plan for the future (and for some this may well be true) for many others they are determined to achieve their own financial independence and security. When relationships break down, many women are faced with the choice of staying where they are because they have no money of their own and nowhere to go. Housing affordability is out of reach even with government subsidies, raising children on their own also places them in a difficult position to try and find flexible working hours to ensure that they can be there to pick up and drop off their children before and after school. Child care is expensive and many sacrifice working longer hours to cover these fees. The down side is that they get even less time to spend with their family.

So how financially secure are you? When was the last time you consulted a financial planner or coach to assess your current income, expenditure and savings targets to ensure that you have sufficient superannuation for your retirement?

Age Discrimination – women over 50’s are the new at risk homeless

Shortages of affordable public housing, privatization of civic services, investment speculation in housing, unplanned and rapid urbanisation, as well as poverty, unemployment and family breakdown are just some of the key contributing factors of the growing number of homeless people. Other contributing factors include mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, displacements caused by conflicts and natural disasters. Older women are more at risk of losing their jobs in their 50’s through forced redundancies and will struggle to find another job. They are often the primary care giver for their ageing parents and/or grandchildren and due to family breakdowns can often lose the family home. Escalating cost of living expenses also stretches their ability to live on the old age pension.

Growing old and becoming homeless – age discrimination

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BK13tPLnId4

Emerging Social Enterprises – The Big Issues

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYO-TeBzYWY

Investing in Women Owned Enterprises

I love being a Springboard Trainer, sharing skills and opportunities to help women to believe in themselves, to encourage them to dream their dreams and to celebrate each other’s success. I am a great believer that when Women support other Women We All Win, it is as simple as that! This can be an effective strategy to ensure the long term viability of overcoming the issues of gender equality and women’s employment and empowerment. When a woman has money of her own she will often invest in supporting other women’s businesses in her local community. At a global level organisations like Fair Trade and the emergence of Women’s Social Enterprises are also enabling more women to become financially secure. In Australia there is a growing emergence of a Community of Mumpreneurs. These Mums have created very successful businesses that enable them to work around their family life.

A Global Voice

My WHY and my other great passion in life is to support women and girls through my volunteer activities with Soroptimist International (SI). For the past 30 years I have had the opportunity to work at the grass roots and at a global level. This has included supporting education projects, providing access to safe water and sanitation, micro-credit lending, investing in women’s social enterprises and lobbying nationally and internationally to effect change. Last year I attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women CSW61 where delegates from around the world met for two weeks to discuss the emerging issues that impact on women. These deliberations result in a CSW Statement that delegates can take back and discuss with their respective governments, business leaders and community organisations.  I am a great believer in the quote by Mahatma Gandhi that we need to “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

Soroptimist International: Who We Are

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6G_7d6Sv6g

www.soroptimistinternational.org

Namaste

Chris Knight

Director Inspirational Connections

Freelance Springboard Trainer – Australia

Member Soroptimist International

Corporate Member Womens Network Australia WNA

Tel: (617) 0403177012

Email: grachris@iprimus.com.au

www.inspirationalconnections.com.au

www.soroptimistinternational.org

The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd

Further Resources

A Quick Guide to the Commission on the Status of Women CSW62

http://research.un.org/en/CSW62

Stories of Elders in Homelessness USA 1:55 mins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hro14IRGKj8

What is the real value of unpaid work?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcqt0QzgUFU

A “Man” Is Not A Financial Plan | Emily Johnson | TEDxHiltonHead

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j04TI115H0U

Fair Trade Empowers Women

https://www.fairtradewinds.net/fair-trade-empowers-women/

Australia’s #1 Community of Mums in Business

https://www.ausmumpreneur.com

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