Several elements of empowerment – access to income, credit, clear land title, education, and decision-making authority – are believed to lead to women’s decisions to have fewer children. The most powerful of these appears to be education. According to the World Bank’s report on fertility regulation in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, there is a strong negative correlation between total fertility rates and women’s education.
With more education, women are likely to feel that they have more options and choose to work rather than stay home with children. It also might enable them to make more informed decisions about the trade-offs of childbearing on personal, familial, and societal levels.
What can a company do to empower its female employees?
1) Since education is the most important aspect, that basically means opportunities, make sure that your employees receive proper training. Promote professional development for women, and encourage them to achieve greater goals in their spheres.
Ensure equal access to all company-supported education and training programs, including vocational and information technology (IT) training.
2) Another important thing is equal pay. Pay equal remuneration, including benefits, for work of equal value and strive to pay a living wage to all. This will go way easier, if you implement gender-sensitive recruitment and retention practices, as people who were aware of your company policies when they were hired are more inclined to respect such HR decisions.
3) Various studies claim that companies with sufficient participation of women (not less than 30%) in decision-making and governance at all levels help increase the managerial process by providing different angles on a problem.
4) Providing access to child and dependent care to both men and women helps gives couples a choice and grants a woman an opportunity to choose whether to stay with the family or work.
5) Networking is extremely important in all modern business spheres. Offer women equal opportunities for formal and informal networking and mentoring.
6) Ask business partners and peers to respect your company’s commitment to advancing equality and inclusion. Expanding business relationships with women-owned enterprises will help to achieve that.
7) Lead by example — show your personal commitment to gender equality and women empowerment. Promote and recognize women’s leadership in, and contributions to their communities. Help ensure sufficient representation of women in any boards and consultation departments.
Examples of women empowerment
Many successful females in history can be models of empowerment. These women worked their whole lives to do something great and exceptional. They did an amazing job by setting an example for every woman around the world.
There are classical examples, like Marie Curie, discoverer of radium and polonium, Valentina Tereshkova, the first female in space, Rosalind Franklin, discoverer of the DNA chain, and many more.
But let’s take a closer look at contemporary examples, such as Malala, the Pakistani activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her defense of women's civil rights.
At the corporate level, an inspiring example is Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, who takes every opportunity to highlight the need to incorporate women at all professional levels.
Tips to empower yourself
1. Be yourself. Think of who you are and what your aspirations are. Have a well-defined goal. Make sure to set clearly what is it you want to achieve.
2. Set short-term and long-term goals. Don’t be afraid of your ambition. But don’t overdo it, in addition to setting long-term goals, break them down into small milestones that you can overcome little by little. In the end, you will emerge victorious.
3. Educate yourself. As we said before, self-confidence comes through training and hard work. But when you get it, your strength will grow tenfold. Acquiring new skills will allow you to feel prepared to face new professional challenges and push your limits.
4. Get out of your comfort zone. An empowered woman is not afraid to take on new challenges. Get out of your comfort zone when you have the opportunity and see how you are conquering your fears and achieving what you want.
5. Build a network of contacts. Networking is important, not only does it help in business but it is also a way to see that you are not alone and there are millions of other women fighting the same battle.
6. Work on your self-confidence. You are what you believe, so you must reinforce the security in your potential without falling into trivial things.
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Violetta Shishkina & Denis Zhigulin