“When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life.” - Kofi Annan
When thinking about the advancement of women and girls, one of the most important opportunities for impact is education equity because it is also the key to economic equity. A girl’s education will have enormous impact on her career opportunities and lifetime earning power. Additionally, women’s voices and influence are missing in still too many male dominated sectors.
Despite great progress, women still face a persistent glass ceiling women in both business and leadership. One example of this is in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sector. Though it is the fastest growing sector for employment, women hold only 24% of STEM jobs. With women representing 48% of the workforce, it is important women and girls are encouraged to step forward in every sector.
Right now, women hold less than 20% of corporate board positions and top jobs, proving that although women have made great strides in other areas, we must continue to support their rise to the top in management and entrepreneurship. In the coming years, the biggest opportunities for high-quality, well-paid jobs will be in STEM specifically. It’s imperative that we place a focus on educating girls in these areas and prepare them to lead in this sector, or women will be left out of influencing the design of future technology and economic systems.
At the same time, women across the nation are struggling at the bottom and middle of the economic ladder. Women are aging into poverty, often because they are mothers without their own sources of income, and the primary caregivers in their families. In order for women to experience economic and financial security, it is important to address women’s and girls’ individual educational and occupational opportunities starting at the local level. We need to encourage women and girls to pursue career paths in STEM, as well as in other occupations that have not necessarily been traditionally held by females.
Together, we can advance women’s rights in the workplace, and make real improvements toward women’s economic empowerment. Here are some ways we can get started:
Provide Women & Girls with Encouragement
When we provide women and girls with the opportunity to receive an education we empower them to pursue the career paths of their choosing. Not only do girls need training to succeed as professionals, they also need encouragement to push to the top in sectors that have largely been closed to them. We need to advocate for those who work in education to recognize the gap, and treat girls and women as people whose opinions and goals matter.
Support Workplace Equality
The need for women to be economically self-reliant is more important now than ever before, as women are both conquering the workforce and raising families at the same time. Today, more than 4 in 10 women are their family’s primary earmers which sheds light on the incredible impact women have on the economy. In order to ensure that women are able to remain economically secure, they need to be paid the same ages as men for the same jobs. At the local level, leaders can take concrete steps to improve women’s and girls’ economic security, from working toward equal pay and increasing financial literacy, to developing important family-supporting policies, to expanding job opportunities.
Work Together for Impact
As we know, change often takes time, and most definitely can’t be accomplished alone. When communities and city leaders across the nation come together for common goals, we can work together collectively in a much more effective way to achieve greater impact. By bringing together organizations like Rise Up, who empowers women and girls across the globe by increasing their opportunities, and other similar organizations, and helping them work with one another, It’s Time Network is working to facilitate collective impact on a global scale.
Interested in learning more about the connection between education equity and economic security, and what we can do to create systemic change starting at the local level? Check out chapter 5 of the Mayors Guide: Accelerating Gender Equality for more information, as well as steps local leaders can take to help move us forward.