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June 14, 2009

Women's Work: Women Chosen as Best Investment Vehicle for World Improvement

(Welcome to the third installment on a series about women's transformative influence on various societal aspects including the professional landscape, human evolution, social change, and philanthropy.)

Next up: the impact that women have on social change and economic development.

I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago with Joanna Krotz (philanthropy expert, author of The Guide to Intelligent Giving, and editor at Town & Country) that focused on women as a source of both social change and global economic development. Specifically we talked about the extent to which women are being chosen as donation recipents as well as the climbing numbers of women who are donors themselves (more on this last point next week).
This conversation dovetailed nicely with two others (on reshaping professional landscape and influencing evolution towards a group society) prompting this series of posts on some of the more exciting and transformative impacts that women have collectively had the world as we know it.

Recently the fields of international development and social change have shifted and placed a great deal of primacy on the education and promotion of women worldwide. This is in part evident through the surge in the number of women oriented micro-credit organizations such as Nest and ProMujer.

"As we know from long and indisputable experience, investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity and sustained economic growth. No measure is more important in advancing education and health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS." - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for International Women's Day, March 8, 2008

Also in 2008 Goldman Sachs conducted a robust global economic research study which found, among other things, that:

"At the macroeconomic level, female education is a key source of support for long-term economic growth. It has been linked to higher productivity; higher returns to investment; higher agricultural yields; and a more favorable demographic structure. The economic growth that results from higher education feeds a virtuous cycle, supporting continued investments in education and extending the gains to human capital and productivity."

In response to these findings, Goldman Sachs launched the 10,000 Women initiative, which invested $100M in the business and management education of women around the globe. This initiative seeks to go beyond the reduction of poverty at the very grassroots level and instead seeks to rapidly advance the economic growth of entire countries and regions.

How thrilling that Goldman determined that women were the best way to achieve this.

More articles on the iniative are here: NYTimes, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Washington Post

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