Skills are Not Gender Specific

Skills are Not Gender Specific

In 1987, a few weeks after women in Kansans gained the right to vote in city elections, a group of men felt like joking with the recent rights’ achievement. They nominated a woman named Susanna Salter to a mayoral ballot. Surprisingly, the joke backfired and Susanna won the elections by over 60 percent of the vote and became the first woman mayor in the United States.

Like with political representation, women have to navigate gender stereotypes, double standards, and gender-related barriers that males are unlikely to experience in education and career progression, and social participation. Moreover, those inequalities translate to considerable earnings differences which in turn reduce women’s role in decision making and as well as their voice.

If women’s voice and decision-making power is low or not present in the household, community, social, political, and economic spheres, the costs will be high.
If that cost would translate to a figure it would be estimated at USD 70 trillion lost over the last 30 years.
Thus gender inequality, besides being a challenge is also a missed opportunity for economic and societal development.


Lack of education makes girls invisible

It’s irrational how in some places is acceptable that a girl can work as a child laborer, but she is denied the right to get an education (SDG 4) and join the labor force as an adult.
According to UNICEF data, around the world, 129 million girls are out of school. Girls in many countries usually face gender discrimination when they don’t get the same access to education as boys do. The reasons differ, but poverty, social norms, child labor, child marriage, violence, poor sanitation are among the key reason why girls are not at school. All of these were the main concerns before the COVID19 outbreak.
The pandemic increased the burden on the equality of educational opportunities as data showed that 11 million girls may not return to school.

Girls that are not in education tend to get married and have children at a younger age. Their children get affected too, as they might suffer malnourishment, high risks of dying, stunting, etc.
While gender-related issues are faced all over the world, there are some places where being a girl is the same as being invisible.


Empowering women through entrepreneurship

When women are left out of education, they don’t acquire the skills that a functional educational system must provide. The question arises, what a woman without proper education can do to generate income, have economic autonomy, and drive social change? Women know how to make clothing, jewelry, food processing, agriculture, crafts, and in many cases they are better than men.
In a nutshell, they can do a lot of things, but they need a good business plan, an entrepreneurial mindset, training, and a cause to make to build a successful small business. For example, women that receive tailoring training and a sewing machine can make their way out of poverty through fashion design. They can take more orders and make clothing faster compared to hand sewing.
Further on, one successful model of sustainable women-led business uses cultural assets as economic opportunities. First, women receive training on cultural products and crafts design, then they receive marketing, business, and management skills. Therefore, women living in poverty or even conflict-affected areas can rely on the value of their culture to respond to socio-economic challenges. Moreover, such initiatives help make room for innovation which in developing economies is regarded with skepticism. Also, it can break barriers related to gender-specific skills and engage men in work that is believed to be the exclusivity of women or vice-versa.

This is why it's important to highlight that skills have no gender. Women and men can make the same occupational choices as long as they have the same access to education and qualification.
Healthy, educated, and economically empowered women are the cornerstone of healthy societies. Therefore, SDG 5 Gender Equality must be a priority in all settings where women or men feel disparity due to gender.
Just like men, women have been at the forefront of computer sciences and programming development, engineering projects, aeronautics and space programs, marine biology and environmental research, molecular biology, cytogenetics, mathematics, and physics, even though many were not credited for their key roles. They have been to space and broken the sound barrier, and yet have to break the gender barrier.

What’s the situation with women's participation in the economic and political processes in your country? Do you think there’s room for improvement in gender equality rights? Would you like to get involved by offering an educational program or a sustainable business focused on women and girl empowerment?
The Entrepreneurship Campus can help achieve your goals. Take the free entrepreneurship training offered by our platform, or join the Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition with an idea or project.

Photo by Lagos Techie on Unsplash

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