Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Closing the Gender Gap

Gender-focused research initiatives are alive and kicking. They include Catalyst, a non-profit membership organization founded in 1962 that expands opportunities for women and business, and the Closing the Global Gender Gap Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School. According to the Kennedy School, the three purposes of this Initiative are: “to examine and quantify the impact of specific policy interventions, to develop a theory of change, and to stimulate innovative ideas and policy action in order to close the global gender gaps across four areas. These areas include economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.”

Then there’s the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative, which in its own words, “is a network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers. The Council’s mission is to promote good governance and enhance the experience of democracy globally by increasing the number, effectiveness, and visibility of women who lead at the highest levels in their countries.” 

In addition, the INSEAD Gender Diversity Initiative is committed “to harnessing the management potential of women from diverse cultures throughout the world” while the International Centre for Research on Women “works to make women in developing countries an integral part of alleviating global poverty.”

The World Bank too has a program on women’s empowerment and gender equality. It recently made its gender data indicators more accessible through a new gender data portal, which will advance work on equality. 

Programs to close the gender gap also exist within corporations. The American health care company Baxter International successfully achieved 50% women in their senior ranks across 14 countries in three years in their Asia-Pacific division. Another company, McKinsey & Company, has conducted research that identified a link between the presence of women in executive committees and better financial performance. McKinsey has issued 4 Women Matter reports.

These are all important efforts worthy of international recognition. More needs to be communicated about them in order to strengthen their reach and their capacity to improve the lives and rights of women worldwide.