Why Women Empowerment Is Important For Development

The representation of women in the global workforce has increased since the 20th century. However, they are still a massively-disadvantaged gender in several parts of the world, and their contribution to the global economy remains greatly overshadowed and under-appreciated compared to their male counterparts, especially in less-developed countries.

What factors hinder women from utilizing their full potential in today’s world? These factors and the methods that can be used to make the workplace a welcoming environment for female employees will be discussed. But first, let’s review some aspects of how empowering women can strengthen a country’s economy.

Advantages of Empowering Women

The age of modernization has enabled many women to attain a higher level of academic expertise via digital methods. The availability of computers, the internet, and similar gadgets enables women to receive a quality education and contribute more to socio-economic development. Many women around the world find it challenging to continue formal learning because of social-cultural norms and values, domestic responsibilities, or employment status.

However, as of now, women can pursue university short courses online to avail high-quality education and up-skill. These courses offer professional development options via research-based coursework.

It’s fortunate to observe that 89% of girls worldwide were enrolled in a primary school in 2018, as per UNICEF. Surprisingly, there are more college-educated women in the United States than men who contribute to various sectors of socio-economic development.

Nevertheless, challenges persist in some parts of the world, where men are paid more than women. This gives reason as to why the world is now rooting to introduce and provide equal employment opportunities to women.

Female inclusion in the international market can have the following benefits on the global economic environment:

  • Promoting gender equality can help reform war-torn countries by strengthening the workforce and reducing illiteracy rates.
  • Empowering women helps them become more confident and capable of establishing authoritative identities as entrepreneurs and leaders.
  • Ensuring women are socially stronger and financially independent will increase their chances of raising healthy families.
  • A study conducted last year shows that a country’s economy grows as more women find work. Hence, OECD states can contribute $6 trillion to their GDP just by boosting female employment rates. Therefore, decreasing the gender pay alone will add $2 trillion to the female income across the OECD countries. The study proposes businesses collaborate with governments and bring more women into the workplace with a proper structure for female earning.
  • Studies confirm that companies employing women in management positions enjoy better financial performance than others. The research suggests that an increased female representation in the workforce enhances a firm’s skill diversity and employee engagement – we’ll build further on this hypothesis by the end of the article.

Challenges To Women’s Empowerment

As per World Bank, fewer than half (46.9%) of all women worldwide were a part of the active workforce, accounting for 38.8% of the total number. Three-fourths of the total global male population made up the rest. Gender equality and sustainable development are interlinked. It is difficult for economies to progress if they underutilize the potential of half their human resource.

According to the ex-UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan, women’s empowerment is the most effective tool for economic development. However, several barriers create a hindrance to them being able to contribute towards economic development successfully. Some of these obstacles include:

  • In third-world/underdeveloped countries, girls are less likely to attend school than boys. In South and West Asia, 80% of out-of-school girls are unlikely ever to start school, compared to just 16% of boys.
  • Crimes against women are rampant even in the 21st century, including rape, abductions, and dowry-related murder.
  • Women have a higher unemployment rate than men. As per an ADP study, they also earn less than 79% of what men get paid in the United States. Women entrepreneurs also have limited access to funding opportunities and support while starting a business.
  • Patriarchy contributes to the demeaning of and discrimination against women. Girls worldwide encounter sexual abuse, selective abortion, female infanticide, domestic violence, etc.
  • Working women often find the workplace unsafe and are discriminated against by their male colleagues or superiors. A 2018 study shows that 81% of women face sexual harassment at their offices. The “Me Too” movement started to make the workplace a more secure environment for female employees.

How To Empower Working Women?

We’ve established that empowering women is essential for the transition to a developed civilization. It enhances the quality and the number of resources available for advancement. Unfortunately, the term women empowerment has been reduced to a catchphrase in certain circles of society to gather public attention. In reality, many women worldwide remain un-empowered.

For instance, around 4 billion people right now don’t have internet access. Women constitute a majority of these offline human beings. A 2014 World Bank document revealed that, while 65% of the men from across the globe have a bank account, only 58% of women have this facility.

We must boldly and vocally address these critical issues that create barriers to increased female representation at the workplace. The following are particular objectives people must achieve to enhance women’s participation in the workplace and society:

  • Men should advocate for the rights of their female colleagues. This includes verbal and actionable support when women are a victim of unfair treatment at the workplace.
  • Women-owned companies and businesses should have access to dedicated funding opportunities to empower and encourage more women to seek financial independence.
  • Stringent measures must be implemented to tackle sexual abuse and harassment at the workplace. It is society’s collective responsibility to speak up against this social cancer that makes the office unsafe for countless women who suffer in silence. Moreover, victim-shaming should be discouraged, and women should be encouraged to speak up against sexual predators at the workplace as soon as an unfortunate situation arises.
  • Teaching business skills to women seems like the quickest route to multiply female contribution to the national economy. Encouraging education and advanced business training offer women convenient paths for inclusion in the job market.
  • A single person can’t bring down a mountain on their own. Many organizations today are committed to eliminating gender-based discrimination and empower women across the globe. Supporting these NGOs – such as Malala Fund – helps further the cause of expanding female representation in professional settings of all levels worldwide.

Fortunately, women have now reached a position where they can empower each other in many countries. They can now raise their voices to acquire equal rights and challenge discriminative narratives that patriarchal societies have imposed on them for centuries. The popularity of Feminism allows people to inspire underprivileged women worldwide and motivate them to strive for their rights. The world has grown more accepting of watching women in leadership roles. Gender-inclusivity financially benefits a company, and female management can make it more profitable.

How Are Women Better Leaders?

Every person has the right to pursue leadership opportunities regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Modern observations have rebuked misogynistic misconceptions regarding women’s inability to lead organizations. Gender shouldn’t be a factor while determining how much influence a leader has.

As per a 2019 study by HBR conducted globally on leadership skills, men make better leaders because of their “technical expertise” and “strategic perspective.” Alternatively, the study suggests that women serve as effective managers due to these reasons:

  • 53.2% of women in the workplace adopt a bold leadership style and practice effective relationship-building.
  • Over 54% of female employees nurture their employees while helping subordinates develop leadership and problem-solving skills.
  • They are also naturally empathetic and understand what motivates different employees to perform better.
  • More than 50% of female employees are prone to “take the initiative,” showing resilience in front of challenges and practicing self-development.
  • Communication is a woman’s strong suit since 51.7% of them are effective communicators. Likewise, emotional stability makes her a valuable leader.

Moreover, another study conducted during the pandemic revealed that women made more competent leaders during crises. Therefore, increased female representation in leadership and managerial positions can significantly help companies enhance crisis management and conflict resolution.

Today, we can see a growing number of women heading some Fortune 500 companies. While men can be career-centric, women tend to consider a more holistic approach towards their job and maintaining work-life balance. This is why women are equally effective as managers.

The Takeaway

In the 2005 World Summit, leaders from around 200 states assembled and declared the importance of gender equality. They acknowledged that empowering women was necessary to advance world peace, security, and global development. Violence against women and hurdles preventing them from receiving a quality education are still widespread in the world. Society can’t eliminate poverty, patriarchy, and corruption unless the female portion of our population is given equal self-development opportunities. However, gender equality has become a priority as awareness of the benefits of women’s inclusion in the workforce increases. The global realization about gender inequalities will continue increasing women’s representation in the global economy.