How social entrepreneurship is uniquely capable of empowering women
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How social entrepreneurship is uniquely capable of empowering women

How social entrepreneurship is uniquely capable of empowering women

Women in social entrepreneurship lead change towards societal issues and change women’s lives through approaches and activities that ensure their welfare

Shirin Jarrar

Social entrepreneurship relates to entrepreneurs that build businesses centered around social change. The business model focusses on investment in creating solutions to societal and environmental issues in a particular community.

Women in social entrepreneurship lead change towards societal issues and change women’s lives through approaches and activities that ensure their welfare. Rachel Brathen’s Yoga Girl organisation, which she set up as a lifestyle community to support individual healing, diversity, and inclusivity, and Malala Yousafzai’s Malala Fund, an international, non-profit organisation that advocates for girl’s education, among others, are great examples of women’s contribution in the social entrepreneurship field.

The British Council analysed the impact of social enterprises for female empowerment in different countries and stated that women-led social enterprises could have a big effect on other women’s lives; mostly through education, training, counselling, health, skill development, job creation, campaigning, affordable childcare, tackling human trafficking, combatting gender stereotypes, accessing finance and giving women a voice in their communities.

Gender inequality, however, continues to be a significant issue worldwide. Therefore, if we meet our UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,’ we must both increase resources for existing activities and understand the potential application of new approaches.

Social entrepreneurship can create pathways for women and empower them, which is key to building better societies.

Job opportunities and economic empowerment
A survey of 279 female entrepreneurs by Inc. and Fast Company, revealed that women hire other women. Although there is a lack of global data showcasing larger studies that reveal hiring patterns, it is understood that most female leaders will want to build gender parity and develop equality in their companies. Social entrepreneurship is known to uplift women that come from varied backgrounds and women social entrepreneurs excel in doing that.

Additionally, there are social enterprises that can help women start their businesses through funding. This can mean funding for underprivileged women that are skilled in indigenous activities and lack the means to source and purchase raw materials. Thereby, supporting job and business opportunities that are not only a source of income but a way to empower and support other women. For example, Michelle Kennedy’s organisation, Peanut, has launched StartHER, a micro fund investing in women and underrepresented founders challenging the biases in venture capital.

Knowledge and skill sharing
Female social entrepreneurs can significantly support upskilling other women through means and activities such as workshops and mentoring. These entrepreneurs understand the need for and the lack of mentorship that women go through when starting their businesses and can create a smoother pathway for those looking to venture independently. Knowledge and skill-sharing are key to bringing informed societal changes, and mentorship can help build confidence. Social entrepreneurship is targeted not towards just organisational profits but towards helping the society, environment and actively supporting positive changes in the world. So, this way, women involved in social entrepreneurship can set aside time to help and support other women in achieving their entrepreneurial goals.

Addressing exclusion and increasing participation in society
Social entrepreneurship can significantly help women achieve visibility on global platforms. Women’s full and equal participation in all facets of society is a fundamental human right. However, women are traditionally underrepresented in society, international platforms and events that bring world leaders together. Through social entrepreneurship, women can represent themselves and shed light on the gender parity that exists in global organisations and governments across the world. From politics to entertainment to journalism and sports, women do not equally participate due to the lack of opportunities. Female social entrepreneurs can help turn this around through representation on world platforms and creating awareness around the need for society to provide better support for women.

The world is far from achieving gender equality. However, every step in the right direction goes a long way. Governments, industry leaders, and educational facilities can play a significant role in uplifting and supporting female social entrepreneurs. A truly cohesive and inclusive approach to integrating female social entrepreneurs is the need of the hour.

Shirin Jarrar is the Global Director of MBA Programmes and Associate Professor of Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University Dubai

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