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Delivering for Working Women

Advancing Women in the Workplace

A 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report found that countries could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. Building on this work, McKinsey launched another report, The Future of Women at Work, earlier this month at the 2019 Women Deliver Conference – four days of learning, sharing, awareness-raising, and partnership-building to accelerate progress toward global sustainable development for women and girls.

According to the report, 40 to 160 million women will have to switch occupations by 2030 due to automation and the changing world of work. Panelists at the launch event – moderated by Raj Kumar, President and Editor in Chief of Devex – discussed best practices and policies to enable women to break through barriers and navigate this new age of automation.

Here are some key insights:

Women tend to focus on employing people while men tend to automate and scale faster. Women should be at the center of creating solutions, not just using technology that men decide is best. – Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder, WEConnect International

The gender bias in business is based on false narratives. Women are seen as less than or lacking because they are compared to the default male standard. Promoting gender equality and changing the bias in business is both a moral imperative and good for companies’ bottom lines. We should leverage corporations’ business goals to further gender equality and improve health. – Carolyn Tastad, Group President of North America, Global Sales Officer, and Executive Sponsor of Gender Equiality, Procter & Gamble

Governments should act with the private sector and NGOs in order to make the transition into the new post-automation world of work. – Kweilin Ellingrud, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company

In agriculture, women work the land but they do not own the land, the business, the means of production, or the equipment. Women need to own the assets in order to create wealth. – Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder, WEConnect International

Female tobacco farmers and others in the value chain in Malawi should be prioritized and not left behind as the industry and world of work transforms. This will require the collaboration of government, civil society, and the private sector. – Sarah Hendriks, Director of Gender Equality, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Gender Lens Investing

Another work-focused panel at the conference explored innovation in delivering more capital to women and increasing the number of women in financial sector leadership positions.

Some key insights:

1 million women have no access to bank accounts. There is a $1.5 trillion global gender finance gap. – Henriette Kolb, Head of the Gender Secretariat, International Finance Corporation

Young girls in Africa are trading sex for menstrual care products, which puts them at risk for unplanned pregnancy, HIV, violence, school dropout, and unsafe abortion. We need more and better business solutions. – Lucy Odiwa, CEO and Co-Founder, WomenChoice Industries

Microfinance is not able to fulfill women’s needs to scale up production. We need a new way to address their capital needs, that is, by pushing the finance ecosystem beyond individuals to supply chains and institutions to close the gender gap. Additionally, it is critical to use locals who understand the market and strategy for gender-smart investments. – Maria Cavalcanti, President and CEO, Pro Mujer

You need to understand the intentions of the person you are trying to convince regarding gender lens investing and communicate a clear value proposition to the client. Women’s economic empowerment is both a critical vector to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and good for financial returns. – Stéphanie Émond, Director, FinDev Canada

Political will is key. Funders should not put their brand/name behind investment strategies that aren’t gender-smart. They should demand it. The gender team at the IFC grew from 5 to 40 people because of internal demand. – Stéphanie Émond, Director, Impact, FinDev Canada

Category:  Innovation

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