$100 Million Women
Two years ago, The Economist (subscription required) argued that investing in girls' education made good economic sense, since "women are now the most powerful engine of global growth." Later that same year, the success of microlending to businesswomen gained international respect when Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a program that lent small sums to Bangladeshi women. Now, the world's largest business bank and 16 business schools have come together to design programs and distribute $100 million to educate women around the globe, as reported in the AP's Goldman to Spend $100M Educating Women.
Called 10,000 Women, the project --Goldman's biggest charitable donation--is backed by American schools such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School and other schools that will work with local universities overseas to run the program.The initiative specifically plans to target women in the Middle East, Asia and Africa who might have little or no opportunity to pursue an education.
The theory is that educating women is, in effect, educating an entire society. Investing in women benefits multiple generations, because women pass on their skills to their children. Studies have shown that higher education levels for women increases a country's gross domestic product.Tom Robertson, Wharton's new dean, said the program can help to chip away at social stigmas about women entrepreneurs in some corners of the world.
"I think there's a lot of ignorance and lack of awareness in some cultures about women in business," explains Maha ElShinnawy, an associate professor at The American University in Cairo. "For instance, a woman trying to get funding is more likely to be met with demands for collateral than a man would be. We can show these women can pay back loans, and there's no reason to be skeptical."
What has education meant to women in your family and your culture? What kinds of ignorance could this type of program -- and this amount of investment -- erase in your world?
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