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Investing in Women: Empowering Futures and Seeking Change

Updated: 2 days ago




In recent years, the critical role that women play in societies has seen a growing recognition for social progress, sustainable development, and inclusive economic growth to be achieved. Thus, as we mark International Women’s Day in 2024, this day each year serves as a powerful reminder of all the progress made, the highlights of those, and the challenges that persist toward a gender-equal world. The theme of “Investing in Women” takes centre stage, as we are yet once again trying to underscore the importance of channeling resources, support, and opportunities toward women’s empowerment. In this article, we will explore why investing in women is not only just a moral imperative, but also a strategic decision with far-reaching benefits for individuals, communities, companies, and general economies. 


It is undeniable that women constitute a significant portion of the global workforce, yet they often come face to face with barriers that limit their participation, partially or fully.  Some of those issues include, but are not limited to, gender biases, discrimination, lack of flexibility from organisations, lack of representation in higher roles, or inaccessible job opportunities. Even though in many countries, developed and developing, the gender gap has significantly decreased, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2024  Middle East, North America, and Southern Asia are the regions with the lowest gender inclusivity, with in-labour participation percentages of 30% and 35%. On the other hand, North America ranks 1st with the lowest gap at 84%, Europe comes 2nd at 82%, and East Asia and the Pacific both scoring 80%. In addition, UN Women stated that only 64% of women are in the workforce, compared to 94% of men, numbers that can be greatly affected by the lack of legal support for women. Specifically, 59 countries have no laws for harassment in the workspace, leaving legally unprotected 2.7 billion women, out of which 235 million are working women in 24 of those countries, making gender discrimination a flaming legal topic to take into consideration.  


Furthermore, women are dealing with higher unemployment which sometimes is a result of a lack of skills due to fewer opportunities available. International Labour Organisation (ILO) has introduced a jobs gap report, which according to the February 2024 version, states that there was an 11.1% job gap in 2023, translating to 435 million people. Between genders, statistics showed a difference of 4.5%, with 15% of women being unemployed compared to 10.5% of men. Additionally, looking back in history, women always had jobs that were related to nurturing and caring environments, such as nurses, teachers, babysitters, and customer service-related jobs. Unfortunately, even today women are more present in ‘informal’ employment, with women in low-income countries even lacking representation in those fields. Thus, women may have fewer chances of gaining a management position within fields like STEM, Finance, or Manufacturing compared to industries like education, administrative and support services, and healthcare, which, according to the World Economic Forum, women flourish. 


Unlocking all talent accessible in the workspace will provide us with greater innovations and inclusive leadership, critical for a brighter future. By investing in women's education, skills training, and entrepreneurship, we unlock their untapped potential, fueling innovation, productivity, and economic growth. Studies have shown that increasing women's participation in the labour force can significantly boost GDP and enhance overall prosperity. International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that Africa and Southeast Asia can benefit from up to $300 billion by 2030, only from the e-commerce market, if women were provided with the necessary knowledge and tools and digital gender equality was established. On the other hand, EU countries can improve their GDP per capita by up to 9.6%, translating to €3.15 trillion, just by increasing gender inclusivity. 


Beyond the economic benefits, investing in women is also essential for driving social change and fostering a more equitable and inclusive society. When women are empowered to voice their opinions, participate in decision-making processes, and advocate for their rights, they contribute to building more just democratic societies. Additionally, investing in women's leadership and representation in politics, business, and civil society promotes diversity, strengthens governance, and enhances social cohesion. This involves implementing policies and programs that promote equal access to education, healthcare, and financial services, as well as creating supportive work environments that enable women to thrive and advance in their careers.


Investing in women is not charity; it is a smart investment with high returns. Each year, this day serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made toward gender equality and celebrating women reshaping and breaking gender norms, while also highlighting the challenges that persist. Addressing the issues women face requires sustained efforts from governments, institutions, and individuals alike. It demands dismantling systemic barriers, challenging cultural norms, and creating opportunities for women to thrive and fulfil their potential. On that account, let us as BAO reaffirm our commitment to investing in women and girls as agents of change and progress by providing equal opportunities, a safe environment, and ongoing growth. Let us seize this opportunity to prioritize gender equality and women's empowerment in our policies, investments, and actions, knowing that by investing in women, we invest in a brighter, more prosperous future for all.


March 8th 2024

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