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Send the Girl Child to School.. and the Women to Business School?

Posted By Vako Tamaklo, Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The recent Clinton Global Initiative Plenary Session on Women addressed several issues regarding the welfare of women and emphasized the need to invest more heavily in female empowerment. Former US President, Bill Clinton, noted that "women perform 66 percent of the world's work, and produce 50 percent of the food, yet earn only 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.' Moreover, he referenced reports that show that 'when women and girls are empowered, entire regions see measurable results' since women are likely to reinvest approximately 90% of their earnings into the welfare of their families, as compared to a figure of 35% for men. Women are already contributing immensely to global growth and could do even more; however, on the whole, they do not reap their fair share of the benefits of hard work, and there is still a lot more to be done in terms of providing the necessary opportunities so that they can further develop and have a wider positive effect on global society.

One particular arena in which this is true is that of business schools. Although female enrollment in law and medical schools has risen over the years, enrollment in business schools has remained quite steady (see articles from the Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine). Executive Director of the Forté Foundation, Ms. Elissa Ellis-Sangster believes that this is owing partly to the idea that it is not as clear what one does with a business degree as opposed to a law or medical one. Still, business management is an essential element in the performance of any business and those who have these skills can effect a lot of positive change in the world. The foundation also finds work-life balance and the lack of encouragement from employers to pursue an MBA as major challenges that women face. How can these challenges be met? Are there other factors to consider; and how might the situation look the same or different between established and emerging markets?

With the knowledge of the potential that women have to create a lasting and positive impact in our world, can we afford not to create the ideal environments to allow them to thrive and be empowered? This brings to mind the famous proverb that reads 'If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation)'. Not everyone might agree with this statement; however, it does throw emphasis on the dire need to empower many women who are at comparably disadvantaged positions to men in many respects (don't believe me? Check out the Girl Effect). How, then, do we bridge the gap?


Vako Tamaklo is the Business Development Officer at Nyaho Medical Centre and serves as the co-chair of The West Indian and African Association at Hamilton College.

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