Women’s economic empowerment, including access to decent work, is essential to achieving inclusive and sustainable development around the world. A country which is more equal has better education and health outcomes, more school leavers and lower mortality rates and a higher per capita income: the essential foundations for a healthy economy. In short, women’s economic equality is good for business.
Yet, globally, women are less likely to participate in the labour market than men, they’re paid less than men and they’re less likely to become entrepreneurs due to initial difficulties in setting up a business. From gender bias and lack of access to capital to balancing family responsibilities, women face different challenges to men in many contexts.
This year’s theme of International Women’s Day (IWD) is #EachForEqual, highlighting how collective action and shared responsibility are key in driving a gender equal world. We are all parts of a whole and our individual actions can have a powerful impact on our society. Whether we run a café in Sweden or an agricultural business in Uganda, we all – women and men alike – have a role to play in empowering women and creating equality.
There is one person who stands out for me this IWD and speaks to me about this year’s theme. Buram Munkhsuren has shown not only what one woman can do when determined to establish a business but also how that drive can lift other women in society. As part of a traditional camel herding community in a remote part of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, Buram was looking to make more money for her family, but in setting up her sewing and handicrafts business she also had a bigger vision. She wanted to make a difference for other women in her community, who were often isolated and with no independent source of income.
“I decided to start a business to support other herder women in a vulnerable position. I believe that this business gives women a newfound sense of confidence and dignity”, said Buram, who now employs 10 women and is looking to grow this workforce year on year.
As CEO of Youth Business International, I’m proud to work with committed partners across our network to ensure we play our part in creating a more equal society by building an inclusive entrepreneurship space. The YBI network strives to make the range of support options available to young entrepreneurs gender inclusive and works hard to reduce the barriers women faced when starting a business. Collectively, we continue to improve and scale our approaches to providing equal opportunities to all young people around the world.
The path to achieving gender equality is long and bumpy, but we should never forget to celebrate how far we’ve come. This year, we’re partnering with the Citi Foundation to host the Female Entrepreneur of the Year: Europe Award to celebrate the achievements of outstanding young women who managed to set up successful businesses despite all the odds to buck the trend. Showcasing these role models, we hope to inspire many more women to follow their example.
So, join our IWD campaign to promote women in business and help us create a more equal and inclusive world – together.