International Women’s Day, March 8, serves as a reminder of the work that needs to be done to improve gender equality in the world.
It also serves as a reminder that there are many organizations working to ensure that gender gaps are reduced.
The New York Times recently reported a major commitment by Goldman Sachs to encourage the education of women in developing nations, helping reduce gender inequality.
Goldman Sachs will donate $100 million – one of the largest corporate donations since 2000, according to the Times – to providing business education to women in “Africa, the Middle East and other developing regions.”
Goldman Sachs launched a Web site titled 10000women.org to explain its motivations to investors and convince them of the importance of the project. As a large financial firm, Goldman Sachs defends its philanthropic donations with business sense and solid economic research.
“Investing in education for women may have the highest social return of any investment,” the company says on 10000women.org. The site also says that only 2,600 women are enrolled in local MBA programs in Africa, which has a population of 900 million. The company says it seeks to change those statistics, believing that the change will provide an economic return in addition to creating opportunity.
Joanne Sandler, ad interim executive director of United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), shares that rationale on UNIFEM’s Web site: “Investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth.”
Economic empowerment also aids in the resolution of other major issues faced by women. At a symposium held in Washington, D.C., in November, the World Bank discussed how a mother’s education directly affects her children’s “education, attainment and opportunities.” Additionally, viable work opportunities will go a long way toward protecting girls from “HIV/AIDS, abuse and exploitation,” according to worldbank.org. The increase in education will also help curtail the worldwide pandemic of violence against women.
While the world appears to be increasingly dehumanized because of consumerism, corporations and big businesses, the commitment made by Goldman Sachs and others will open doors for many women in need. Even if the project is, in part, treated as business, the lives affected and the changes in global perception are very personal. The products of the women who benefit from this program will also greatly impact the women of their community, and more good will be done.
The results of this project will undoubtedly prove to those in power that what is good for women is good for their nations and good for the world.