WASHINGTON, D.C. – Poor women’s lives can dramatically improve when they are included in creative, breakthrough concepts and practices, according to new findings by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).
ICRW’s first-ever scholarly assessment of innovations that transformed women’s lives will help guide a new ExxonMobil effort announced today at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York. ExxonMobil’s program aims to use technology and innovation to improve women’s economic livelihoods.
“Our research shows how cutting-edge ideas can be game changers for the world’s women,” said Anju Malhotra, ICRW vice president of research innovation and impact, and principal author of the study. “Innovations that introduce women to a seemingly simple technology or increase their access to economic opportunities, or shift how society views women’s roles and potential, can transform not only her life, but her nation’s economy.”
Women in developing countries have little access to innovations that could better their social and economic standing – as well as that of their families, communities and countries. But as a growing number of businesses and governments recognize the value of investing in women, there now are more possibilities than ever to include women in innovative opportunities emerging worldwide.
In its groundbreaking analysis, ICRW assessed innovations that transformed women’s lives by using technology, changing social norms and strengthening economic vitality. ICRW identified seven core approaches – or levers – that are essential to create meaningful change for women. They include:
• Creating strategic partnerships among governments, the private sector and civil society so that a diversity of resources and networks reach out to women and meaningfully benefit them.
• Including women in the design and diffusion stages of innovations so the efforts are shaped in ways that are relevant to women and will meet their needs.
• Having committed support from governments as well as efforts at the grassroots level to ensure that innovations generate momentum.
ICRW has found that applying such approaches to innovations is critical to helping women stand on equal footing with their male counterparts and – more importantly – arming them with the confidence and ability to help address the most challenging problems in international development.
“Never before has the world experienced such dynamic change in technologies, economies and societies as it is today,” said Geeta Rao Gupta, ICRW president. “For the first time, through this research, we know how innovation can lift millions of women out of poverty and help them reach their full potential.”