Why is Big Business Investing in Women & Girls?

Article Date

03 February 2012

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

Private sector philanthropic initiatives to economically empower women have rapidly proliferated in recent years. From blue chip companies to Wall Street investment firms, CEOs and bankers have come to recognize both the charitable and bottom line benefits of bringing women everywhere – half of the world’s population – into the world of business.

This week, La Pietra Coalition, an alliance of corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions supporting women’s economic empowerment, launched the ‘Third Billion‘ campaign with the goal of preparing and enabling one billion women to enter the global economy by 2025. It is a goal that reflects La Pietra member International Center for Research on Women’s (ICRW) own vision.

Much of the momentum can be attributed to a growing body of evidence produced by institutions like ICRW showing that women’s economic participation is critical in the fight against poverty in low-income countries. It is also a largely untapped source of potential growth.  As The Economist put it in 2006, “Forget China, India and the Internet, economic growth is driven by women.”

While the strategic objectives are clear, there are more questions than answers about which tactics are working – and which are not. Where is the private sector investing? Who is benefitting and how? What real change have we seen in the lives of women and girls? Is there evidence of economic growth, however nascent?

Along with a diverse panel of corporate and social enterprise investors, ICRW will strive to answer some of these questions and others at its fourth Passports to Progress on March 7, the eve of International Women’s Day. The event builds on previous discussions about creating new opportunities for women and addressing the challenges that continue to stand in their way. Join us in Washington D.C. to find out – in their own words – how and why big business interests are banking on the future of women and girls half a world away.

ICRW’s latest reports on economically empowering women:

Understanding and Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment
Bridging the Gender Divide: How Technology Can Advance Women Economically
Innovation for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality