What a week it’s been for women across the globe. You’ve probably been asked to engage in a number of events employing your expertise on panel discussions, or you’ve attended a few that spoke to the number of key interests in your present society, expertise and/or as a self-identifying woman. I hope it was worth it, and I hope that capital found its way to you via committing to these engagements, because that is what truly this day is all about, and has been for 110 years since its inception.

As per IWD, “International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.” The day is about creating visibility about women’s successes and challenges, and an opportunity to showcase the economic value of what investing in an equitable future (could) mean socially, economically, culturally and politically, especially at the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I was a part of several engagements this week, two included topics which are their own pandemic: Gender Based Violence and Gender-lens Investing. I had the pleasure of moderating these engagements, and what is abundantly clear, is that there is more than enough data (at some point, the South African Deputy Minister of Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, Pinky Kekana and I were referencing the same data points), as just as enough capital across the private and public sector. It is just not matching the urgency to invest and deliver at the intersection where women are impacted fast enough.

There’ve been many lessons these week (and in my career and lived experience as a woman), and I thought it an opportune moment to share how action can be harnessed through these engagements.

Surplus of DATA

The case of investing in women has been pleaded many a times, across commercial and social lines. Research and papers are conducted by institutions like the World Bank Africa Region’s Gender Innovation Lab, World Economic Forum’s The Gender Agenda , The UNDP and UN Women’s COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker and the Gender Smart Investing Summit to mention a few. These are data points that assist governments, private sector institutions and individuals channel the appropriate capital in response.

It’s a Global Risk NOT to Invest

"Funding the Female (owned) Economy is not just diversity and inclusion aesthetics, it’s an economic development catalyst to amplify sustainable impact."

A few months ago I wrote an article highlighting the implications of not funding businesses with a gender-lens framework.  A McKinsey Global Institute report highlighted its findings on gender parity, including that $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. Gender inequality should be considered a crime against humanity, it strips women of the dignity to access a life worth living, especially as presently, they enjoy half the fruits. And, to echo Tara Sabre Collier, Advisor & General Lead at the Shell Foundation: “Gender lens investing is essential. While women represent 50% of the world’s population, they typically earn half of what men earn.  There is a clear rationale for anyone who cares about impact.”  

Capital comes in MANY Forms

“Let the capital follow the research.” - Stephanie Vak-Stephens 

I joined Stephanie on a panel this week, and these succinct words of hers will always stick with me, if I could print it on a T-shirt I would. And these 6 words are my call to action as you wrap up reading this article, to action the structural and interpersonal bias that impedes the $12 trillion added value to global economy. It is to sponsor, mentor, inject in women’s social capital and write the checks that fund their businesses, it is great for the triple bottom line as it is for personal ego.

 

Encouraged by the numbers in this article, but don’t know where to get started? This list is filled with venture capital firms, competitions and various institutions that are contributing to providing financial and social and to women and their gender-lens businesses. It starts with checking your bias, doing your research and actioning against it, and through your single action, a community is impacted.

 

                                                                   

Published in Life Style

Vuyolwethu Dubese is a multiple award-nominated professional in impact and inclusive development, and innovation strategy. Over the past five years, she's served as a Startup Partnerships Lead for Africa for global intelligence firm, Thomson Reuters and as an Impact Acceleration Associate at investment and advisory firm, Impact Amplifier and served on boards. During this period, she has also worked with organisations like Foundervine, World Bank Group, Standard Bank, UCT Graduate School of Business, UNDP Africa and Accenture, Seedstars World, Redbull and Global Startup Awards to mention a few through her expertise. As a moderator, she's graced the stage at multiple high-level engagements in and outside of South Africa including the USAID Global Entrepreneurship Week, and the Timeless Women's Conference and Gala Dinner in Rwanda to mention a few.

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