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2017 International Women's Day Edition

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Focus on Gender
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United Nations: International Women's Day 2017

The United Nations International Women’s Day theme is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.” Today, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka writes, “… there are simple, big changes that must be made: for men to parent, for women to participate and for girls to be free to grow up equal to boys.” She further references the “digital revolution” adding, “We must see a significant shift in girls all over the world taking STEM subjects, if women are to compete successfully for high-paying ‘new collar’ jobs.” And she calls on public and private entities to adopt the Women’s Empowerment Principles.

FortuneHow Countries Around the World Are Celebrating International Women’s Day

Fortune reports about actions around the globe in celebration if International Women’s Day”:
  • The Americas: Women go on strike or wear red for “A Day Without a Woman” to demonstrate women’s contributions. 
  • The UK and Ireland: British women will demonstrate and wear red “in solidarity with the global women’s movement.” Irish women will “Strike4Repeal” of the country’s 8th Amendment that bans abortion. 
  • Europe: In Italy, women will receive free admission to museums featuring works either by or about women.
  • Middle East: Women in Turkey ignored a ban against the protest to take to the streets on Sunday. Saudi Arabia saw police firing rubber bullets into a peaceful, first ever women’s protest last month.
  • Asia: In China, which has recognized the day since 1949, the celebration has mutated to offer women shopping discounts.

In a wide-ranging Bloomberg Business interview with Melinda Gates about the work of the Gates Foundation, including its $80 million commitment to using big data to improve gender equality, she addressed the lack of data about women, particularly in Africa. Simply put, Gates said, “What we don’t measure, we don’t work on.” Gates also talked about the US STEM “leaky pipeline,” pointing out that that the percent of computer science degrees earned by women has dropped from 37% in the 1980’s to 18% today.

McKinsey & Co.: Women Matter Africa

The study found that African companies with at least 25% of the board members being women enjoyed earnings 20% higher than average by industry. Three key findings:
  • Top 5% of women in Africa's private sector (CEO, executive committee and board) is greater than the worldwide average but women are increasingly underrepresented as they move up at all levels.
  • Africa has more women in its parliaments and cabinets than the global average. The report attributes the 15-year doubling of women in parliament and 5-fold increase in cabinets to countries setting targets for women’s representation. 
  • However, as the report concludes, “… numbers do not equal influence.” African companies have more women in staff versus line roles (the latter more likely to present promotional opportunities) and women government ministers are more likely to serve in positions with less political influence (i.e., social welfare).

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