Women make the world a better place, genuinely!
The idea of women as ‘agents’ of social and political change goes back to the time of the French Revolution and is inseparably linked to the fight for equal rights. New Zealand’s world leadership in women’s suffrage became a central part of our image as a trail-blazing ‘social laboratory.’ This Suffragette movement was in fact the focus of a 2015 movie of the same name, starring Helena Bonham Carter, Carey Mulligan, and Meryl Streep. Set in early 20th-century Britain, it tells the story of a courageous strong-willed diverse group of women who fight for equality and the right to vote. It’s a fantastic film and well worth going to see if you get a chance.
Today, the idea that women could not or should not vote is utterly foreign to New Zealanders. In 2013, 32% of Members of Parliament are female, compared with 13% in 1984. In the early 21st century women have held each of the country’s key constitutional positions: a prime minister, governor-general, speaker of the House of Representatives, attorney-general, and chief justice. Women are agents of social change.
The World Bank’s World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development (WDR2012) identified women’s voice, agency and participation as an essential dimension of gender equality and as a major policy priority. The report found that “they have the numbers and the power to create a bigger brighter and more beautiful world, and that is good for everyone!
Recently there has been a focus on how brands are depicting girls/women in advertising and the immense importance of its potential effects on how women see themselves and how society views females. Ads that inspire and empower women may be making a difference, both to the way women feel about themselves and companies’ bottom lines. The term used for this communication is “femvertising” defined by Samantha Skey, Chief Revenue Officer of SheKnows Media, as pro-female messaging within advertising. The ultimate hope, it seems, is that women will support companies that support women — and that brands who continue to demean and objectify women will occupy less space on our television screens, billboards, and magazine pages.
Women also are the powerhouse behind social good. A study, called Women Give, from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, found that women are more likely to give to charity than men. The Women Give study states that “women at all income levels have the desire and capacity for giving and do give to charity. Savvy nonprofit organizations and fundraisers will change the way they approach donors, will include more women in their fund-raising strategies, and reach out to ‘half the sky’ to fulfill their mission.”
Interestingly enough, given we are speaking of the digital world, a recent New York Times article, entitled “How to Attract Female Engineers.” claimed research suggests that if the content of engineering work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enroll in droves. An excellent local example of this would be Melon Health, previously known as Social Code, which was founded by Kiwi Entrepreneur Siobhan Bulfin. Their mission is to empower people to take care of their health. One of their first products was a Quit Smoking App, and they also created an App so support those who suffer from depression and address the issues of teen suicide. Siobhan, who is a friend, is a fantastic example of digital women committed to social good.
Social Good is a powerful emotive signal for women and in particular Millennials. Get them involved, get them to care and you can truly change the world for the better, genuinely. Now that is a win / win in my books.