International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8. This year’s theme is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” It celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future. Always, but especially now, in a world that still needs to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women at the forefront
Women’s full and effective participation and leadership in all areas of life, drives progress for everyone. Yet, women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making, as revealed in the UN Secretary-General’s recent report. But when women lead, the world sees positive results. Some of the most efficient and exemplary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were led by women. And women are at the forefront of diverse and inclusive movements online and on the streets for social justice, climate change and equality in all parts of the world. Women are also at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, as front-line and health sector workers, as scientists, doctors and caregivers. Yet they get paid 11% less globally than their male counterparts. An analysis of COVID-19 task teams from 87 countries found only 3.5% of them had gender parity.
Equal future for all
This is why this year’s International Women’s Day is a call for Generation Equality, to act for an equal future for all. Shilpa Mittal Singh, joint MD at Women on Wings: “We salute that all women deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence. A future that is sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made. Like in households in rural communities. According to the World Bank, rural women gain greater power in decision-making regarding the use of household resource when they contribute to the family income. That is why we at Women on Wings focus on the co-creation of jobs for women in rural India.”
It is proven that sustainable income for women contributes to gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty. When rural women control additional income, they spend more of it than men do on food, health, clothing and education for their children. That is why Women on Wings partners with social businesses that provide employment to rural women. By scaling these enterprises, extra jobs are being co-created. Employment for rural women does not only have a positive impact on the household income but also on the influence women have on economic decisions. It changes their position in the family which is highly empowering.
Women led social enterprises
Since a few years, Women on Wings witnesses an increase of partnerships with female entrepreneurs who take up the challenge to bring about change. Ronald van het Hof, joint MD at Women on Wings: “From the 18 new partnerships in the past three years, 10 are being led by women who are totally committed to bring their enterprises to the next level so as to engage more rural women. All started their enterprise with the aim to create or improve livelihoods for rural families, and to empower women. It is very inspiring to work with these strong women entrepreneurs.”
Every day is Women’s Day
Not just on International Women’s Day but every day since its inception in 2007, Women on Wings works towards creating a better position for women in rural India. It scales social enterprises that employ women with the aim to co-create more jobs. The economic and social imperative for women’s economic empowerment is clear. Greater gender equality boosts economic growth and leads to better development outcomes. Gender equality and emancipation of rural women is recognized as a key driver of inclusive growth and social progress in India by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Sharing success stories
Over the years, Women on Wings has met many women while on field visits in rural India. Hearing the women’s own stories about how their income had changed their lives, keeps motivating and inspiring the Women on Wings family to continue working on realizing its target of co-creating one million jobs for women in rural India.