Tuesday, March 12, 2013

From the UN to Lean In: Women are finally center stage

Women's issues have taken flight this month, as the world collaborates to give our voices more exposure.

The UN started an initiative to have CEOs from around the world commit to empowering women in the workplace and communities. While female representation in the labor force has made progress, there is still room for improvement.

Women CEOs make up a small fraction in the global community. Some professions may have seen a rise in the number of female workers, but statistics show that high paying jobs are still being nabbed by males. These positions require more commitment than apparently many women can give when they're raising families. While more women are graduation from universities than ever before, we are still unable to make a real dent in workforce representation. Or are we just making excuses?

Corporate superstar executives such as Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg have defied the statistics. They are mothers, wives, and high powered execs in corporate America. They never pretend it's easy, but they made a commitment to soar against the odds, and they did. They are noble examples of what women can accomplish when goals are set and the word 'no' is eliminated from our vocabulary.

But it's not an easy journey to accomplish. More needs to be done to empower women. Madams Sandberg and Marissa are phenomenal women, but they are in the minority.

Worldwide, only nine percent of CEOs are women. Only four percent of these women work in Fortune 500 companies, and 80 percent are mothers. There are still challenges to overcome and hurdles to counter.

The good news is, the world is on our side. First, the UN initiative, along with the OECD and World Bank, women's issues and gender equality has become a global rally for social justice. But this is only the first step.

What we need are more demands and commitments to teaching women financial education. Women are graduating from universities at increasing numbers, but many still lack basic financial skills. They are more likely to forgo investing for retirement, run credit card debt and are still vulnerable to financial abuse.

Research shows that when a woman is financially literate, she elevates her standard of living, gives her children a better future and helps stimulate economic growth. These benefits have been found in women of all backgrounds.

After all that research and hours of studies, the world is finally understanding this impact. Empowerment campaigns have surged from the ground up and they are making a difference. From Sheryl Sandburg's Lean In initiative, where she challenges women to commit more to their careers, to the UNs movement, there are more opportunities for women now the ever before. The time is finally here.

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