Do’s and Don’ts: Empowering Women in times of crisis
There is no arguing, uplifting women uplift those around them, their communities, and society as a whole.
Empowering a woman, by stimulating their confidence, strengthening their capacities, and putting them in a position to be in charge, is key to fully realize women’s rights and to achieve gender parity. When more women work, economies grow; women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification, and income equality, in addition to other positive development outcomes.
Entrepreneurs are fundamental in stimulating the market by creating new jobs, advancing innovation, and, generally speaking, improving our collective lives. However, when we do not ensure women have equal access to such opportunities, we effectively leave half of the adult population out of the market. This means we are potentially missing out on groundbreaking ideas and economic advancement at the same time.
During crises, such as a global pandemic, women are disproportionately affected. Women are more likely than men to work in low-paying, insecure, and informal jobs. Women also make up for the majority of health professionals and essential workers at the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, risking their health and safety, as well as those of their families. Finally, as schools and facilities are closed, women face a heightened burden of caring for their children as well as their households.
How do then businesses, and society more broadly, cultivate a culture where everyone feels well-equipped and supported?
Ensure women are represented in planning and decision-making processes, by, for example, ensuring equal representation in taskforces and response teams. The Target Gender Equality is an accelerator program supporting businesses in reaching ambitious corporate targets for women;
Set-up mentorship programs and provide women with forums for discussion. In Singapore, BoardAgender aims to get more women into the boardroom and into senior leadership roles, while Women's Register, offers a networking program for women over the age of 18 who are seeking mentorship and opportunities to get more involved in their communities;
Support working parents while piloting programs that advocate for women to be able to work and not be seen only as mothers and/or responsible for the household;
Partner with governments and different sectors to support relief efforts. A company’s duty to support women does not and should not end at the company’s door; multi-stakeholder partnerships grant programs more efficiency and increased sustainability.
To unlock the potential that women can bring to the table, we need to build both greater awareness and education around the opportunities and resources that are out there - which may help to foster a change to a more positive, proactive mindset.
 International Monetary Fund, Pursuing Women's Economic Empowerment, 2018 https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/Policy-Papers/Issues/2018/05/31/pp053118pursuing-womens-economic-empowerment
 https://www.unglobalcompact.org/take-action/target-gender-equality  https://www.boardagender.org/about