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Opinion: Empower Women to end World Poverty

Opportunities should not be determined by your geography or gender. However, the reality is that two out of three girls are denied an education and of the available funding for businesses around the world, only 3% goes to ones founded by females.

The cherry on top of this disappointing collation of statistics for us was when the World Economic Forum found that at this rate it will take 108 years to achieve gender parity and in the mean-time the global economy is losing trillions of dollars every year.

After spending the last ten years running over 45 accelerators around the world with a gender neutral approach, our intention was not to discriminate on the basis of gender. However, with recent research indicating that this approach in the social sector underserves women in patriarchal societies, we were paradoxically further contributing to women missing out on opportunities.

We recognised that men and women are impacted differently by poverty, health, domestic violence and education, likewise they respond differently when receiving an income with reports confirming that women reinvest 300% more into their families and communities.

So at ygap, instead of just talking about this injustice and gap in opportunities, and waiting for someone bigger than us to create this change, we did something about it by launching yher.

yher is a female-focused program that is specifically designed to find the most promising emerging female leaders in developing regions and empower them with access to training, mentorship and access to funding so that they can grow their social impact.

We knew that by investing in women, there would be a significant flow on effect for societal change in their communities.

During the yher pilot phase in 2017-2018, our yher team received an overwhelming 847 applications confirming the demand for the program and we went on to support 63 emerging female leaders across Africa, the Pacific and South Asia addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

One of the women who applied to our yher program was Muzalema Mwanza who had developed a social impact venture, Safe Motherhood Alliance, ensuring safe conditions for mothers and their babies at the time of childbirth.

With the SubSaharan region being the home of 50% of the world’s infant mortalities due to unsterile birthing environments, Muzalema recognised that these were preventable deaths in her community and she couldn’t simply stand by and allow them to happen.

With the development of her home birth kit, Muzalema has not only offered training and employment opportunities, she has also assisted in delivering over 1,000 babies. That’s one woman impacting over 1000 mothers and their babies, and she has only just begun her social impact journey towards a world free of avoidable deaths related to childbirth.

She had a solution to a local problem, all Muzalema needed was someone to find her, believe in her and back her. This is just one social impact entrepreneur’s story of the success that comes with backing local change, there are 453 more stories just like this at ygap.

Unanimously across every benchmark, nations that educate their women and girls end up being more successful in two ways – one being basic fairness and decency, the other being that the empowerment of women has been proven to yield large social and economic returns.

It’s a no-brainer, empower women, end world poverty.

Eliza Hilmer, ygap Communications Manager

Social impact entrepreneurship as a means to alleviating people out of poverty is a strong passion of mine. My long-term association with ygap, and synergy with ygap’s purpose has led to my assuming of the current position as their Communications Manager.

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