Making the case for investing in women

March 11, 2015 at 2:53 pm Leave a comment

headshot of JessicaMarch is National Women’s History month and the perfect time for philanthropy to take a look at equality and what we all can do (men included!) to advance society by applying a gender lens to charitable giving.

Last week, Otterbein University, in partnership with Bowling Green State University and the University of Findlay, hosted a Women in Philanthropy Summit to start the conversation around improving gender equality by investing in women. A cohort of Philanthropy Ohio staff, students and our philanthropic peers from all over Ohio came together to hear about the staggering issues plaguing policies, workplaces and societies for women and girls across the U.S. and globe.

Dr. Musimbi KanyoroOne of the highlights was Tuesday night’s keynote speaker, Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women. She shared the mission and goals of the International Women’s Fund as well as her own experience working to change treatment, opportunities, policy and future outcomes for women and girls worldwide.

Dr. Kanyoro said that for movements to succeed, they need capacity building and leadership. Many women have ignited change, and many girls have gained their voice – the kind of philanthropy that she’s proud of.

As for where to start, Dr. Kanyoro said to connect with a group doing good, and then take it to scale. You’ll recognize that social change has been attained when the issue is reframed, resources are invested, policies and regulations are improved and justice is achieved.

Another highlight of the event was on Wednesday morning, when we heard Katie Koch – the head of Global Portfolio Solutions International for Goldman Sachs United Kingdom – present research on what it’s like to be a female in a developing versus a developed nation. She shared the work Goldman Sachs is doing to improve the availability of small business financing and public policy when it comes to investing in women entrepreneurs worldwide.

“How can any country move ahead when leaving half of its population behind? 90% of countries had one or more gap in legal protections for women. Some countries had 10 or more,” Koch said. “Women make 45 cents on the dollar to men in the developing world. We have to prove to families that education is a good return on investment… more often boys are seen as an asset on the balance sheet, while girls are seen as a liability.”

Goldman Sachs launched 10,000 Women in March 2008, a global initiative to drive economic growth by providing 10,000 women a business and management education as well as links to networks, capital and mentors. By the end of 2013, 10,000 women from across 43 countries had been reached through a network of 90 academic and nonprofit partners.

“Investing in women and girls has the largest ROI for the developing world,” Koch said.

Wrapping up the summit, a panel of smart women leaders – including Shelly Bird, executive vice president, office of the CEO at Cardinal Health – answered questions posed by The Columbus Foundation’s Lisa Courtice, Ph.D.

Q and A women's panel“Investing in women and girls is the best philanthropic strategy. It strengthens families and communities,” Bird said. And her advice to girls: “Pull up a chair because no one is going to give up their seat.”

The summit left me with a full notebook as well as a mind full of thoughts and ideas to ponder. Gender equality and investing in women are topics that not only are increasingly popular among philanthropists and nonprofits, they are key to improving our community for women and men alike. We hope to continue the flow of conversation and great ideas at our conference in the fall, Philanthropy Forward ’15. So stay tuned!

If you missed the Women in Philanthropy Summit, you can see the tweets at #investinwomen and view the full recorded summit here.

Best regards,

jessica signature


Entry filed under: Diversity, Ohio Issues, Philanthropy Forward '15, Public Policy. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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