Tuesday, 8 March 2011

What does International Women's Day mean for social enterprise?

Today is the centenary of International Women’s Day.  I picked up some tweets earlier asking why we need a specific day to celebrate the contribution of women?
 The gob smacking clip launched today in support of the organisation Equals, with Daniel Craig dressed as a women, and DameJudi Dench providing the narrative, answers that question and I would like to add that International Women's Day is vital, now more so than ever. Equals invites us to join the big inequality debate, and I think we should.

I have blogged before that in the face of economic constraints equality has taken a back seat. This is a disaster as a male, white, straight world will only delay economic recovery, and anyway that’s not a world I want to live in, do you?

In the last few hours I have met 2 women leaders who don’t necessarily feel sidelined due to their gender, but do feel isolated by their predominantly male boards. At almost every podium I find I am a lone female voice, and receptions, launches, conferences, taskforces, advisory bodies are, in my experience, becoming more male dominated with all male compositions being the rule rather than the frowned upon exception.

So what are SEL members doing? I am delighted that our membership is groaning with women led social enterprises and indeed business networks for women led by women. We have social enterprises working in the UK and those like Divine who are addressing social inequality and deprevation in the developing world. Everywhere we learn that gender is an economic issue.

Sophi Tranchell the ceo of Divine texted me this morning to tell me they had inspiring women from Ghana over today to visit Divine, celebrate IWD and launch the Divine Women's Awards . Servane Mouazan ceo of the Women’s network Ogunte, a business network where they call for, ‘a better world powered by women’ also reminded me to check out their website. These women and others like them are improving the lives of the most vulnerable here and all over the world and, frankly, that is worth celebrating.

Check out the SEL website for the video clips of Daniel in a blonde wig, Sophi at Divine and Servane at Ogunte.

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