With almost half of the world’s population living on less than $2.50 a day, the answer to eliminating poverty remains elusive. But what we do know is that women must play a crucial role in confronting this challenge.
Giving women the reins in governance, both local and global, has proven to inspire innovation, change and inclusive solutions to national and international agendas. Yet, since the first female head of state was elected in Sri Lanka more than 50 years ago, we have seen only a token increase in women in positions of power. Today, a meagre 6 % of world leaders are women – an under-representation extending to business entrepreneurship, peace negotiations, representative assemblies and many other influential roles and decision-making processes. So why is there such a lack of women in influential positions? And why is their participation so important in the first place?
When given the right tools including education, capital, technology and skill development, women are empowered to lead their families, communities and countries out of poverty or war; motivate and empower others; and campaign for justice. As the saying goes “Help one woman out of poverty, she will bring four others with her”. So why aren’t there more women participating in global governance? What is standing in the way of women taking the lead in transforming issues of national and international development? And what needs to happen to ensure that talented and intelligent women are recognised, have their input valued and their leadership respected?
Can we really expect to see lasting, long-term change in the world and a marked reduction in extreme poverty without involving women in leadership?
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