Addressing Gender Equality in IndiaIt’s clear that improvements are immensely needed in order to bridge the gap in gender equality in India. The country ranked 130 out of 168 for the Gender Development Index. Fortunately, the United Nations Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, attended the #WeSeeEqual summit in Mumbai on Feb. 18 to address issues of addressing gender equality in India, the Middle East and Africa as well as potential solutions.

Puberty and Hygiene

Many adolescent girls in India are not educated about how their body changes during puberty or the importance of having adequate hygienic methods. Discussing the topic of menstruation is taboo, which leads to many misconceptions. According to a report conducted by the Dasra Foundation, 71 percent of girls had no knowledge about menstruation until their first period. It was also discovered in this report that 70 percent of the mothers surveyed believed menstruation was “dirty,” which further perpetuates shame felt by young girls when puberty starts.

Young girls and women who menstruate are also treated differently, one cultural tradition that remained until recently was that women who have reached menstruation age were not allowed to visit temples. Poor sanitary facilities in schools and other public areas is also a pressing issue. However, at the #WeSeeEqual summit, U.N. Women and Procter & Gamble (P&G), an American multinational consumer goods corporation, teamed up and pledged to educate more than 23 million adolescent girls over the next three years on puberty and hygiene in India, the Middle East and Africa.

Women-Owned Businesses

Although the economy in India is impressive, it could improve even more if women were more involved in the workforce. Only about 26 percent of women in India work. There are many social and religious constraints preventing more women from working, including household chores and motherly duties, which are normally placed on women. More than 70 percent of home-makers in India stated that they would prefer at least part-time work if given the chance.

If the employment rate of women were raised to the same level of employment for men, about 240 million more women would be included in the workforce. This would also mean that the world’s biggest economy would be 27 percent richer. P&G revealed at the #WeSeeEqual summit that it would aim to spend $100 million on working with women-owned businesses and improving female education in India, Middle East and Africa over the next three years. At this summit, P&G and U.N. Women also committed to using their voices to spark conversation and motivate change.

Looking Ahead

It’s important for organizations to use their resources and power to encourage equality in areas of the world that need it the most. U.N. Women and P&G addressed gender equality in India in an impactful way by discussing important issues, such as women in the workforce and adolescent girls being educated about menstruation and proper hygienic methods. Summits like #WeSeeEqual encourage change and help address important issues and potential solutions that will hopefully improve the situation around the world.

Maddison Hines

Photo: Flickr

Technology Gender Gap in Latin AmericaIn Latin America, information and communications technology (ICT) is emerging in many economies, therefore, the demand for trained individuals in the tech industry is rapidly increasing. At the same time, 30 million youths are not working, participating in school, or engaged in training programs. And 76 percent of them are women. The lack of digital skills among young women is troubling because less than 20 percent of women transition from studying to formal jobs. Fortunately, programs such as Laboratoria are taking initiative in bridging the technology gender gap in Latin America.

How Was Laboratoria Created?

Laboratoria, once known as Ayu in 2014, started as a web agency that built its own in-house tech team. Once the hiring process was over, the company realized that its tech team was 100 percent male. The issue did not lie in their hiring practices but rather in the availability of females with digital skills who the company could bring on board.

As a result, the company decided to spearhead an initiative to train women developers and then hire them once they were qualified. The company targeted women who were unable to attend tertiary school due to economic constraints. As the idea grew, the company saw that there was potential to increase female inclusion across as many emerging and existing tech teams in Latin America, not just their own.

How Does Laboratoria Work?

Laboratoria operates in three stages:

  1. Selection process – Any woman can apply to Laboratoria. However, there is an extensive interview process and Laboratoria to identify those who would benefit the most from the program. Those that are selected must take “exams, pre-work, and real class dynamics” as part of the selection process.

  2. Bootcamp training – Those selected are accepted into a six-month boot camp that beings with a “common core and finishes with two specializations” which are Front-End development and UX design. Developers learn JavaScript, HTML, CSS and “highly demanded tools as React framework” while UX Designers graduate with an “innovative profile that combines coding with UX skills.” They also learn team skills that they will be able to apply to group settings. More importantly, it shows them the importance of supporting each other because creating a family of women in their tech careers will help them succeed.

  3. Talent placement – After the six-month boot camp, students are connected with hiring companies through Laboratoria’s own TalentApp and Talent Fest hackathons. These hackathons give real challenges to the students and they must solve them in 36 hours. The companies then choose who they want to hire based on the results of the challenges. Only the students who get hired by the companies have to pay for the program.

How is Laboratoria Bridging the Gap in Tech in Latin America?

Here are the results Laboratoria has produced through its program.

  • In 3 years there have been over 1,000 graduates
  • Laboratoria has connected with over 400 hiring companies in the tech industry
  • The rate for job placement for 2017 was 80 percent
  • The average income increase among employed graduates has tripled

Laboratoria is one of many programs that is bridging the gap in tech in Latin America by providing young and adult women with the opportunity to access, develop and acquire digital skills. These digital skills will help them build confidence and experience, but more importantly, bring gender diversity into the tech industry.

– Jocelyn Aguilar
Photo: Unsplash

Feminist Foreign PolicyIn the last several years, feminist foreign policy has made its way into the spotlight. Foreign policy refers to a government’s strategy in dealing with other nations while the definition of feminism is “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” How do these two definitions come together to make one theory?

Feminist Foreign Policy

According to the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy (CFFP), “a feminist approach to foreign policy provides a powerful lens through which we can interrogate the hierarchical global systems of power that have left millions of people in a perpetual state of vulnerability.” In other words, feminist foreign policy involves making domestic and global gender equality issues a central focus of the government. It is a multidimensional policy with the goal of improving women’s and marginalized groups’ experiences and quality of life. Its goal is to explore the effects of the patriarchy, capitalism and racism.

Origins

In 2014, Sweden became the first country to prioritize feminist foreign policy, led by Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom. Subsequently, the government applied a systematic gender equality perspective throughout Sweden’s entire foreign policy plan.

In 2018, Sweden released its feminist foreign policy manual which took a deeper dive into the policy. The manual contains lessons on women’s rights and includes work and research from the last four years. The manual includes topics about economic emancipation, sexual violence and women’s political participation.

Other Countries’ Views of Feminist Foreign Policy

Under the power of Justin Trudeau, Canada has adopted a foreign feminist policy. In 2017, Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Foreign Minister, stated that “It is important and historic that we have a prime minister and a government proud to proclaim ourselves feminist. Women’s rights are human rights.” Also in 2017, Canada’s aid program was renamed the Feminist International Assistance Policy because the government felt that the best way to reduce poverty and create a peaceful and inclusive world was to promote empowerment of girls and women, and equality of the sexes.

New Zealand is ranked ninth of 144 countries when it comes to gender equality, according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2016 by the World Economic Forum. It was also the first country to give women voting rights, which happened in 1893. But according to Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, “There is no room for complacency.” The country will continue to work towards supporting girls and women in education, ending domestic violence and closing the pay gap. “This work will continue until we have equality,” says Ardern.

In the U.S., Hillary Clinton stated at a 2010 TEDWomen event that equal gender rights would create more stable and secure nations and that the inequality between genders is a threat to domestic and global security. This idea went on to be known as the Hillary Doctrine. It is also written in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review of 2010 that the protection and empowerment of women is key to foreign policy and safety of the United States.

Although there are still gains to be made when it comes to gender equality in foreign policy, definite improvements have been achieved, especially in the last 10 years. While some countries have fully embraced the idea of feminist foreign policy, many have yet to make it a focus. Sweden has caused a ripple effect and made an impact when it comes to gender equality on a national and international level.

– Malena Larsen
Photo: Flickr

PA 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Ireland
In the past century, Ireland has transformed from a poor agricultural country into one of the best places to live in Europe. Industrialization and foreign investments have brought wealth to the country, which has been used to improve the lives of Irish citizens. These 10 facts about living conditions in Ireland are not without their pitfalls; however, they demonstrate what is possible when an economic boom is met with social conscientiousness.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Ireland

  1. In the last five years, the living conditions in Ireland have improved faster than any other country worldwide. Between 2012 and 2017, the country rose 13 places on the U.N.’s Human Development Index and now is number 4 after Norway, Switzerland and Australia. This index ranks countries based on life expectancy, access to education and gross national income per capita.
  2. Ireland had the highest birth rate of the European Union (EU) member states in 2017, with 12.9 births per 1,000 people. The country also has one of the fastest growing populations in the EU, a rarity among developed nations. The population grew from 3.1 million in 1911 to 4.59 million by 2011, a 46 percent increase. However, this is still lower than the 8.4 million people estimated to have lived in Ireland prior to the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s.
  3. From 2001 to 2016, the teenage pregnancy rate fell 64 percent, a decrease of almost 2,000 teenage births. This is likely due to the Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) instituted in public schools in the 1990s. The 2016 survey, Growing Up in Ireland, found that 79 percent of sexually active 17 and 18-year-olds always used contraception.
  4. Ireland is closing the gap in gender inequality. In 2015, the country ranked eighth in the European Institute for Gender Equality’s index at 69.5 percent, which evaluated work, money, education, time, health and power. It has been rising steadily since 2005 and is currently ahead of the nearby United Kingdom. For example, in 2018, the Irish gender pay gap was 14 percent, which was ahead of Australia at 15.4 percent, the United States at 18 percent, the United Kingdom at 18.4 percent and Canada at 26 percent.
  5. The healthcare system in Ireland is on par with the European average. Both public and private health services are provided by the Irish Government’s Health Service Executive (HSE). About 72 percent of healthcare costs are covered by the government, and the remaining costs are paid for through voluntary healthcare payments or out of pocket. In 2013, 40 percent of people living in Ireland had a medical card that provides free healthcare, with the remaining amount being a subsided fee based on income level. Private (religious or community-based) healthcare is also available at a fraction of the cost of other developed countries.
  6. The cost of living in Ireland is high. Good and services cost 25 percent more than the EU average, with high price tags on essentials such as rent, transportation and child care. There are fewer government services for things like childcare and housing, so the Irish have to rely on private companies. The lack of competition from the government keeps the prices high.
  7. For a full-time worker, the average income is €45,611 per year, a number that has been steadily increasing since 2015. However, the Irish have less disposable income. The OCED average is $30,563, with Ireland averaging $25,439. High personal taxes and the high cost of living eat into these profits.
  8. The amount of public housing is unable to keep up with the population’s need. Almost one in five Irish families now live in a rented home, which is double what it was 10 years ago. This has caused a shortage of rental properties and a significant increase in the cost of rent. There were 1,709 families who had to utilize emergency accommodation services in October 2018, with 3,725 of them being children. The overwhelming number had lost their homes after rent increases priced them out. Nonprofits such as Focus Ireland work to provide services and temporary housing to those who cannot afford the costs of living.
  9. Life expectancy in Ireland is 83 for women and 80 for men, higher than the international life expectancy of 72. That is an increase from 2011 when life expectancy was 76.8 for men and 81.6 for women. The significant rise in healthcare, income and education has contributed to a longer life. Current concerns for life expectancy are obesity and alcoholism.
  10. Ireland ranks 14 out of 156 countries on the World Happiness Report, trailing behind Finland, Norway, Denmark and other Nordic nations. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, says that the happiest countries “are good at converting wealth into well-being,” a skill the Irish have proven adept at. Ireland also has a strong sense of family and community. At least 96 percent of people surveyed by OECD believed that they had a reliable friend or family member on whom they could lean in times of need.

Ireland has made enormous leaps in development in the past century, enabling the country to improve its living conditions exponentially. The world happiness index has shown that people are willing to tolerate a high cost of living when the quality is above and beyond. However, there will have to be solutions developed for those who find the cost of living too far out of reach, or the current problems will only grow worse.

– Jackie Mead

Photo: Upsplash

 

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Guyana
Guyana, a nation located on the Northeastern shoulder of South America, has continually made efforts to improve its education system but the country’s social, political and economic problems have had a devastating effect on it. The lack of funding for education had lead to poor conditions in schools, but Guyana’s government has implemented the Education Sector Plan 2014-2018 in order to improve its education system at all levels. In the text below, 10 facts about girls’ education in Guyana are presented.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Guyana

  1. The gender disparity in education between Guyanese boys and girls continues to grow as they transition into higher grade levels. Girls are outperforming boys in numerous subjects and are more likely to stay in school while boys tend to discontinue. Primary school enrollment for girls was 83 percent, compared to the same figure for boys that was at 95 percent. Secondary school enrollment for girls is 100 percent while it is 96 percent for boys. Primary completion rates for girls is 97 percent and for boys- 98 percent. At the tertiary level, enrollment for girls is twice as high compared to boys.
  2. In 2013, girls in the coastal areas of Guyana scored 15 to 23 percentage points higher in Math and English than those in the hinterland areas of Guyana. These results are partly due to the higher percentage of poverty and lack of school resources in hinterland areas.
  3. The teaching profession is seen as the feminization of schooling because women dominate this field. In 2012, 70 percent of secondary education teachers were female and only 27 percent were male. This result is due to tight gender roles in Guyana as girls are seen as more nurturing, open-minded and cooperative. Boys tend to choose non-traditional subjects such as Science and Technology.
  4. The Ministry’s Labour Department is responsible for creating the National Training Project for Youth Empowerment, which is a 12-week technical and vocational education and training program that targets out-of-school-youth in Guyana. Compared to boys, there was a higher rate of girls that signed up for service occupations such as health services, home economics (623 girls, 8 boys) and IT/Clerical (183 girls, 30 boys).
  5. First Lady Sarah Granger and Minister of Telecommunications Cathy Hughes have implemented Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Guyana that encourages girls to pursue non-traditional careers. They believe that Information Communications Technology (ICT) will provide girls and women with essential skills that will “promote literacy, improve access to health care, and enable the exercise of legal rights and participation in government.” Girls in STEM are the future that will allow Guyana to succeed. Women are a part of present too, as 30 percent of Guyana’s Parliament are female. This percentage of women in Parliament is active since 2005.
  6. Guyana has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and it is one of two countries that are a part of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief. The knowledge about HIV prevention among young girls aged between 15 and 25 is about 50 percent. For young boys, the knowledge about HIV prevention is 40 percent. Knowledge about safe sex and HIV/AIDS prevention increases with education level for both boys and girls. It is important to educate girls about prevention because girls are more likely to get HIV/AIDS to due biological, socio-cultural and economic reasons. Encouraging girls to stay in school is a way to ensure a better quality of life and an important factor in preventing HIV/AIDS.
  7. Teenage pregnancy between the ages of 15 and 19 affects 97 out of 1,000 girls in Guyana. The teenage pregnancy rate is the second highest in the Caribbean and South America. Young girls between the ages of 15 and 19 with higher literacy rates have lower adolescent birth rates. Girls who remain in school are less likely to become pregnant.
  8. The Education Sector Plan (ESP) of 2014-208 was created to provide a quality education for all of Guyana’s citizens. Its main objectives were eliminating illiteracy, strengthening tolerance and modernizing education. The ESP has made huge progress in regards to improving access to education at all levels, increasing the proportion of trained teachers and providing more access to interactive technology, computers and upgrading physical facilities in particular.
  9. After ESP 2014-2018, students improved 14 percentage points in English but did not improve in Mathematics. ESP is still trying to tackle this lack of progress. ESP was also able to professionally train 70 percent of teachers. It also provided and implemented numerous support programs, including School Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS, Health and Family Life Education as well as School Welfare Program.
  10. Too often, girls are not able to reveal their full potential in improving Guyana’s economy due to discriminatory social norms, incentives and legal institutions. Girls often tend to be overworked, underpaid and sexual harassed in the workplace. A major issue that hinders girls’ education and work is gender-based violence. The World Bank Report of 2017 revealed that only 53 percent of females aged 15-64 participated in Guyana’s labor force compared to 80 percent of males of the same age. This result is the reason why The National Task Force on Prevention of Sexual Violence was established.

Although most of these 10 facts about girls’ education in Guyana shed light on the need for improvement in education, progress is still being achieved. Plans and actions are being supported by the Guyanese government and numerous organizations that are willing to help. Education for both girls and boys is key to improving Guyana as a whole.

– Jocelyn Aguilar
Photo: Flickr

top 10 facts about girls’ education in Indonesia
Education in Indonesia has reached gender parity, with no significant gender gap in enrollment percentages. However, the schools there continue to reinforce gender stereotypes through their teachings. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Indonesia explore issues within the gender-biased curriculum as well as the changes being made to combat them.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Indonesia

  1. In Indonesia, students’ enrollment in school seems no longer influenced by gender. According to UNICEF, 92.8 percent of girls and 92.7 percent of boys are enrolled in primary school. Also, 62.4 percent of girls and 60.9 percent of boys are enrolled in secondary school. Therefore, gender parity is a notable accomplishment among the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Indonesia.
  2. However, schools in Indonesia tend to have gender-biased textbooks. In these textbooks, men are cited more often than women and there are more illustrations of boys than girls. Within the illustrations, boys are shown in more diverse roles while girls are shown in more stereotypically feminine roles.
  3. Gender stereotyping is also projected in the way students are conditioned to choose their subjects of interest. Women in Indonesia prefer subjects like Social Sciences while men prefer subjects like Technical Sciences. While women are discouraged to choose subjects such as Math or Biology, men are discouraged to choose subjects such as Humanities as they are considered feminine in nature.
  4. In Indonesia, girls are more likely than boys to drop out of school. According to UNICEF, for every 10 children that drop out of school at the secondary level, seven are girls. One of the primary reasons for this is early marriage and the stereotypical mindset of society.
  5. Close to 84 percent of men in Indonesia are in the labor force, while only around 51 percent of women occupy the same position. Also, most of the top government and private positions are held by men. As a result, there is a huge difference in pay between men and women in Indonesia. While the gross national per capita income for men stands at 13.391, for women it is as low as 6.668.
  6. On the brighter side, the PAUD KM 0 ‘Mekar Asih’ is an early education model that seeks to educate students equally without any gender discrimination. They provide a gender-neutral curriculum where children can see themselves in any role irrespective of their sex.
  7. Centers like PAUD ensure that both mother and father be equally involved in their child’s academic development. It is one of the ways in which they try to convey the idea of equality between the sexes to the children. For instance, the centers invite fathers to come in for storytelling in order to shatter the stereotypical image of women as caregivers.
  8. The PAUD KM 0 early education model has been adopted in over 300 districts and 34 provinces. The program also engages women and mothers by forming groups at various locations. They provide them with training by organizing workshops and through campaigning.
  9. According to Kurniati Restuningsih, Head of the Sub-Directorate of Curriculum, “The Ministry of Education and Culture promotes gender mainstreaming at an early age as a way to improve equality and diversity and eliminate gender discrimination which unfortunately still occurs in many communities.” The program seeks to empower girls at a young age to stay in education and pursue careers they would otherwise be stopped from pursuing.
  10. The Ministry of Education and Culture also conducts a Mothers of Early Childhood Education program called ‘Bunda PAUD’. The specialty of this program is that it is fully run by women, from First Lady, Irina Jokowi, to wives of governors, mayors, and regents. This is to provide girls with a strong female role model in a significant leadership position.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Indonesia highlight the issues with the gender-biased curriculum in Indonesia and also emphasizes the various efforts put forth by the Ministry of Education and Culture in order to close the gender gap.

– Anna Power
Photo: Flickr

Ethical Fashion Brands
Ethical fashion refers to how clothing is made and takes into account the materials that are used but also the treatment of the workers, their salaries and their safety. The movement is growing and shedding light on the unsustainable practices of so-called “fast” fashion – miserable working conditions, unlivable wages, environmental degradation and pollution. Poor men and women must endure these conditions because they do not have a choice. Currently, more and more ethical brands aim to give back to local communities in developing countries. In this article, five ethical brands working to alleviate poverty by empowering women are presented.

Ethical Brands that Empower Women

  1. Krochet Kids puts a face behind the product. Everything they produce is hand-signed by the woman who made it and customers can learn about the stories of these women online. The company provides job opportunities to women in need to help them break the cycle of poverty. It all started as a hobby of high school friends who crocheted their own winter hats and other products. After attending college and spending some time in Uganda, the idea to pass on the skill of crocheting to people emerged. By teaching people the craft they gave them the autonomy to start working and providing for their families. Krochet Kids provides jobs which is a crucial step toward alleviating poverty. They also work with a nonprofit partner Capable, in order to go further and provide services to help their employees in all areas of life. The program includes mentorship, educational and financial services. Capable’s goal is to equip people with the skills, knowledge and resources they need to permanently get out of poverty and create their own business.
  2. ABLE is a lifestyle brand whose mission is to end generational poverty by giving women economic opportunity. The founder, Barrett Ward, had a firsthand experience witnessing how poor young women in Ethiopia had to prostitute to support themselves and he decided to change that. The brand has grown a lot over the years and currently works in countries like Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru and Nashville. All of the company’s products have something in common- they are made by women and help bring the end of generational poverty closer. To show the true impact of their work, ABLE is committed to radical transparency and publishes the wages of their employees. They also use a platform that measures social impact. By being radically transparent they want to empower consumers to demand change through their choices and invest in women.
  3. Initially starting out as a nonprofit organization in 2008, Raven + Lily now employs over 1,500 women in order to help them break free from the cycle of poverty. Their partners ensure that they pay their employees livable wages. Raven + Lily recognizes that production impacts people and the planet and does not only minimize the waste by using repurposed or recycled materials but aims to empower women on a bigger scale. Every purchase funds microloans given to women entrepreneurs in local communities. Raven + Lily provides women with a safe job, fair wages, health care and tools to empower them to thrive.
  4. Mayamiko is an ethical brand that produces clothes, accessories and homeware ethically made in Malawi. The brand uses and draws inspiration from African techniques and locally printed fabrics. Mayamiko works closely with Mayamiko Trust, a charity that aims to nurture the talents and creativity of those most disadvantaged. They lift people out of poverty by training them in activities that could transfer into a trade. The Mayamiko Trust and the brand work together through the Mayamiko Fashion Lab. The Lab provides education, nutrition and sanitation. Disadvantaged women, many of them being HIV patients or orphans, learn sewing and tailoring and develop business and financial skills. Upon completion of the training, they receive guidance, mentorship and recognized qualifications as well as access to microloans to help them start their own business. The Mayamiko Trust also crafts and provides reusable sanitary kits to women, giving them a safe and hygienic option for their period.
  5. HopeMade is child-labor-free certified brand and committed to high-quality ethically made products. The company started in September 2016 with the goal of producing conscious and ethical fashion and providing employees with dignifying wages and work. The brand uses 100 percent alpaca fiber that is knitted in Peru by local artisans. Their core values are sustainability, fair trade and ethics and they are on a mission to transform the way style is produced, perceived and consumed. The brand is managed from Colombia where indigenous tribes work and earn fair wages.

Empowering women impacts and lifts whole communities out of poverty. When women earn a sustainable income, they reinvest it back into food, health, education, children, their family and the community. Ethical brands help women create their own businesses, provide for their families and escape the cycle of poverty.

– Aleksandra Sirakova
Photo: Flickr

Global Network of Women Entrepreneurs
Everyone knows the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” that often opens opportunities for the people to succeed.

But for people without notable connections, rising through the ranks can prove rather difficult. Organizations around the world have noticed this cause-and-effect, and they are using it to address the disparity of women-owned businesses around the world.

Around $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality and supporting more women to become entrepreneurs.

Three organizations, in particular, are working to build global networks to expand the potential of women entrepreneurs by connecting them with the right people to succeed.

WeConnect International

The purpose of WeConnect International is to create a global network of women entrepreneurs and help them succeed in global value chains by connecting them with qualified buyers.

Founded in 2009, WeConnect International is premised on the encouragement of equal opportunity for men and women by expanding the reach of leadership networks for women.

This organization trains women on how to sell to corporations and corporations on how to source their products from women business owners, allowing women to develop their businesses and access new markets.

WeConnect International also certifies businesses as Women’s Business Enterprises (WBE) outside of the United States that are verified to be at least 51 percent owned and managed by females.

These companies are connected with an eNetwork of corporate members, training workshops and multinational corporate buyers that allow women-owned businesses to thrive.

There are over 750 certified WBEs and 5,387 self-registered women’s business enterprises.

In addition to expanding networks with corporate business leaders, WeConnect women are building a network among themselves and doing business with each other in over 50 countries.

As trendsetters in inclusive sourcing and global supplier development models of business, corporate members of WEConnect International represent $700 billion in annual purchasing power.

By expanding the women-owned businesses, WeConnect helps in the growth of jobs and equal opportunity environment around the world, adding to global GDP and adding creative perspectives to global business.

APEC Women Connect

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women Connect Program is embracing the digital age to expand women’s potential in entrepreneurship.

In 2016, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) launched this initiative with the goal of building a community through digitalization that can empower women entrepreneurs through sharing, learning and awarding.

APEC Women Connect was pioneered by Diane Wang, an ABAC member of China, and Chair of ABAC Women’s Forum.

She saw the career opportunities and potential for the expansion of e-commerce and globalization for a low cost. This program is now connecting these opportunities with resources in the form of human connections to create a global network of women entrepreneurs.

As its primary resource, the APEC Women Connect has established two groups on Sina Weibo and Facebook to share case studies, seminars and to inspire others.

However, another trailblazing development that this body has organized is the 2018 Global Value Chain-Cross Border e-Trade Workshop.

This workshop hosted 20 participants from 9 countries most of whom were women from small countries.

The focus of the workshop was to show business owners how to utilize the current global supply chain to recognize opportunities for global expansion.

It was understood that while large multinational corporations have dominated global trade, the rise of global supply chains also creates circumstances that allow for small entrepreneurs to specialize.

DHgate.com, also founded by Diane Wang, is the only e-commerce platform dedicated to serving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) retailers around the world, lowering the entry barrier for global markets access.

In its steps moving forward, APEC Women Connect is committed to building diversified platforms and networks of cooperation in areas of capacity building, information exchange and best-practice sharing to enhance gender inclusivity and expand the global network of women entrepreneurs.

Women for Women International

Women for Women International assists marginalized women in war-torn countries and conflict zones by creating social and economic empowerment programs.

Classes comprised of up to 25 women are organized to share their experiences, build support networks and learn crucial financial skills that will help them to support their families.

Since 1993, over 478,000 marginalized women have been helped by Women for Women International. Women in this program are among the most marginalized in the world.

After completion of the program, participants can also opt to take further graduate support classes. The graduate support programs help to propel women into the enterprising world with advanced financial and business training.

With these support networks, Women for Women International are expanding the global network of women entrepreneurs from the ground up.

Building women’s networking groups and acknowledging gender issues can heighten awareness, improve working environments on an internal and systematic level and boost confidence among employees.

Professional relationships create opportunities and as the job market for women entrepreneurs expands, it is important to ensure that they have the right people pulling them up to reach their full potential.

 – Sara Andresen
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Burkina Faso
Located in Western Africa, Burkina Faso is the country with a lot of problems that are affecting over 20 million of its people.

The unemployment rate has increased constantly in the previous years, and a lot of work needs to be done regarding this issue.

Developments have been made in efforts to reduce poverty, one of them being the work of active labor market program, or ALMPs.

In addition, the National Housing Program is helping in the endeavor to meet the need for affordable housing. There have also been efforts to commit to providing education for all citizens by 2015.

With continued effort, more developments can be seen in aiding people’s lives in Burkina Faso.

In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Burkina Faso are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Burkina Faso

  1. The unemployment rate of the total labor force increased from 2.6 percent to 6.4 percent from 1991 to 2016. From 2000 to 2016, the unemployment rate for women has increased from 2.8 percent to 9.3 percent, and the youth unemployment rate has risen from 3.8 percent to 8.6 percent in the same period.
  2. The country is still struggling to reduce its poverty rate in order to improve living conditions. With population and labor force growth, the country has not yet lifted its people out of poverty by a high number. According to a World Bank report on employment and skills development in Burkina Faso, the country must create more than 400,000 new jobs by 2030, given the population dynamics.
  3. In the same report of the World Bank, a number of solutions to combat and reduce poverty are presented. One way to help all people achieve growth is to create an investment environment that aids people. Another way is to enhance the infrastructure and financial system and bolster economic governance, health and education.
  4. Another strategy to generate jobs and reduce poverty is to find and support the most effective policies. One initiative to combat poverty is the Active Labor Market Programs (ALMPs). The purpose of these programs is to increase the chance of being employed and to increase jobs in the country. ALMPs are comprised of training people in order to get them employment and increasing demand for jobs through initiatives such as public works.
  5. Burkina Faso has a growing housing finance sector. There is a strong correlation between urbanization and housing. As more people are moving to cities, there is also a higher demand for affordable housing. Currently, the urbanization rate in the country is 5.73 percent. One successful way to increase the amount of housing is through microfinance.
  6. Estimates from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development show that the urban population in Burkina Faso will double by 2030. The National Housing Program started by the government is one initiative that is part of the solution to address the need for affordable housing. The initiative endeavors to provide 40,000 houses by 2020 to low-income families. The initiative also aims to provide sustainable solutions for the need for affordable housing.
  7. With the help from some community health initiatives, some progress has been made in bolstering the national health system. The national health system in Burkina Faso is made up of the public and private medical sector. One positive development in this area has been hospital reform, that aimed to deliver emergency care without prepayment.
  8. While the budget of the Ministry of Health has increased, it is still far away from a satisfactory level. The budget increased from $132,6 million in 2007 to $162,3 million in 2009. The percentage of the state budget aimed towards the health sector has risen from 15.21 percent in 2008 to 15.46 percent in 2009.
  9. Burkina Faso has some of the lowest literacy and school enrollment rates in the world. The literacy rate has risen by 30 percent in 2001 to 32.5 percent in 2005. Primary school net enrolment ratio in 2011 was 63.2 percent.
  10. Out of the total children in schools, 65.7 percent of boys are enrolled in school, compared to 54.5 percent of girls. The country has committed to the 10-year Plan on the Development of Basic Education and the National Policy of Integrated Development of Children.

While unemployment has increased and there is still more work to be done in closing the gender gap in education, living conditions in Burkina Faso have improved, as seen in poverty reduction efforts through ALMPs and providing affordable housing.

With more sustained effort, Burkina Faso can achieve more positive developments in helping to enhance the quality of life for all.

– Daniel McAndrew-Greiner
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Kosovo
Kosovo, once a part of Serbia, has a long history of working towards gaining independence. In 1996, a Kosovo rebel group created the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which led to repression by Serbia and an ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovar Albanians. A peace agreement in the late 1990s ended the conflict and gave control of Kosovo to a United Nations administration. In 2008, Kosovo officially declared its independence from Serbia with support from the U.N.

However, due to this conflict, Kosovo struggled in the early 2000s to rebuild its education system. This article will discuss the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Kosovo.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Kosovo

  1. Education in Kosovo is split into pre-primary, primary, lower secondary, upper secondary and tertiary levels. Within upper secondary, students can either attend a vocational or general education school.
  2. In 2005, 10 percent of rural girls dropped out of school before finishing Grade 5. Due to this, female students only comprised 43 percent of students in rural secondary schools.
  3. In 2009 and 2010, although elementary and secondary schools were comprised of 52 percent boys and 48 percent girls, slightly more women attended university than men, with university enrollment consisting of 49 percent males and 51 percent females.
  4. Based on data from 2010, 7.2 percent of women aged 15 and older in Kosovo are illiterate, in comparison to 2.2 percent of men. In rural areas where literacy rates are lower, 8.7 percent of women and 2.8 percent of men are illiterate. This represents a significant improvement from 2005, however, when 14 percent of rural women were illiterate.
  5. Approximately 71 percent of all Kosovo children attended pre-primary education (for ages 5 through 6) in 2010, but by 2015 this percentage had risen to 81.3. However, poorer households and Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families are less likely to send their children to pre-primary school.
  6. Grade 5 testing done in 2010 indicated that girls and urban students significantly outperformed boys and rural students. While the urban-rural divide in education access and quality is well-documented, reasons for girls attaining on average higher test scores is yet unknown.
  7. As of 2012, 62 percent of women and 37 percent of men had nine or fewer years of schooling and only 6 percent of women and 12 percent of men had a university degree.
  8. Overall, 99.6 percent of girls in Kosovo complete primary education and 99.3 percent of girls begin lower secondary school according to 2013-2014 UNICEF reports. However, only 85.5 percent of girls continue on to upper secondary school, as opposed to 89.6 percent of boys. These percentages have increased significantly since 2002, however, when 91.2 percent of girls attended primary school but only 54 percent received secondary education.
  9. Kosovo’s Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian populations, both men and women, are educated at lower rates than the Albanian and Serbian populations. While 91.6 percent of girls and 94 percent of boys from these communities enter primary school, only 72.2 percent of girls and 80.3 percent of boys finish. These percentages continue to decrease as the educational level increases, with 28.7 percent of girls and 37.3 percent of boys beginning upper secondary school.
  10. Poverty and safety concerns are the two primary factors that inhibit rural girls from obtaining an education. A survey from the early 2000s found that economic hardship, particularly in the aftermath of the conflict, was the most common reason for girls to not attend school. There was also little economic incentive for girls to attend school as female unemployment in rural areas was ninety-nine percent. Additionally, students often lived far away from the schools, making it potentially unsafe for them to walk miles by themselves, especially during the winter.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Kosovo help illuminate the progress the country has made, but also the work that still needs to be done, namely decreasing urban and rural disparities, as well as ethnic inequalities in education. Keeping girls in school through upper secondary education is also a concern that needs to be addressed, although the higher rate at which women are attending universities suggests that education for girls and women in Kosovo is becoming more accessible overall.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr