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Double Your ROI – Invest in a Woman!

For International Women’s Day in March, we highlighted some extraordinary entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, Haiti and Timor-Leste who have worked with Peace Dividend Trust and utilized our Marketplace to build their businesses.

Today, we are happy to celebrate The Girl Effect. Over the past decade, recognition that women are one of the world’s greatest  “untapped” resources has gained broad credibility in the international development community and has captured public interest. So what’s all the fuss about?

International development aid is a multi-billion dollar industry that impacts the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world (If you’d like to dive into the nitty gritty details of aid distribution – in 2-D and 3-D! – visit AidFlows). Yet even despite the increased focus on women as critical players in the fight against poverty, women only receive 2 cents of every international aid dollar spent.  The disparity in aid distribution is made even more stark (and illogical) when aid agencies and donor governments compare returns on investment between male and female aid recipients. Resources allocated to women are reinvested in their local communities at significantly higher rates – around 90% of their income! – than when given to traditional male recipients. These are impressive statistic, but how are they being made actionable?

Last July the UN General Assembly launched UN Women, a brand new entity rooted in the idea that empowering women “fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth.” Equality Means Business, one of UN Women’s many initiatives,  emphasizes the importance of engaging women in the private sector and has partnered with donors to make its Principles a reality. The World Bank has created a similar initiative and donor governments around the world have also reoriented their investments to align more closely with the Millenium Development Goals to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. At an APEC Summit in September, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 20 Asia-Pacific nations met to create an action plan for women’s economic empowerment or “smart economics.” In addition to the big hitters, myriad smaller programs including PDT are quietly working under the radar to help realize the Girl Effect.

The ripple effect of investing in a woman can increase the living standards of her family and her community and, ultimately, contribute to the reduction of global poverty over the long-term.  As development professionals and as individuals, we have the capacity and the obligation to support and scale-up the work that is currently underway from Kabul to Port-au-Prince. For more information on how you can play a role check out PDT’s blog and visit  the Girl Effect.

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