Using our wealth for women

My blogs never usually mention giving money – so next month, you can relax. But just this once….

Over the next two weeks, thousands of women from every UN country will be in New York. They won’t be marching or doing much shouting.

They will instead be making their voices heard at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). A plethora of events will cover different agendas, from high powered celebrity packed celebrations to small, slightly amateurish affairs on the fringes. The CSW is the biggest UN gathering aside from the General Assembly. There will be politicians, professional feminists, charities and faith groups.

It’s expensive to be there and this year I won’t be making the trip. Lack of money is the biggest barrier to having a voice.

Last year, the leader of evangelical women in the Caribbean and I were there, sharing a budget room, meeting people, attending events and telling anyone who would listen that women in local churches around the globe deserve a voice. Jenifer Johnson from Barbados is a strong leader: she has her own radio program dealing with a range of relationship issues from a Christian perspective; and she runs the only shelter on the island for women who need to get away from abusive homes. She is consulted regularly by the government on these social issues because she is intimately involved in the lives of local women.

At the CSW, Jenifer spoke at an event organised by a faith group, Side by Side, about how she is working with churches to alert them to abuse and trafficking (girls and boys are victims). She also trains pastors in how to talk about healthy family life.

Women of faith can be sidelined at the UN but they have important views on education, family, health and work. They also want to learn how to advocate more effectively.

I would love to be able to have funds so more women can go to events like the CSW. I would love to see more capable women like Jenifer training others. Women like Fortuna in Kenya, Lona in South Sudan and MayPan in Myanmar.

It is not easy to get money to train, develop and inspire Christian women in leadership. Those words don’t go together in Christian fundraising circles. We will give money to see women lifted out of dire poverty via micro-credit, which is great. We will sponsor girls to get an education, which is very needed.

But somehow, the next step, of seeing young women being trained as leaders in a Christian context becomes too hard. Women are victims of violence, of poverty, of maternal mortality. But they can also deliver solutions if they get opportunity and encouragement.

So this week on International Women’s day (the 8th) and  with Mothers Day around the corner, I’m asking  for women and men to help me develop confident and equipped women leaders in the Church, at the UN and in business.

Let’s use our wealth for women. And then let’s pray that the money will be multiplied as it is used for leadership projects. Those empowered women will in turn train, equip and encourage many thousands more.

I’m asking for money so women from places like Egypt, Barbados and South Sudan, can have leadership training and development opportunities for the benefit of the whole Church.

If you live in the UK                                                                                                                         Please make your donation by bank transfer to Transform Network.                                     Bank: HSBC   Account Name: Transform Network Sort code: 40-06–34                       Account Number: 01411616     Reference: Women’s Commission

If you live anywhere else eg USA, Canada, Australia                                                                 The easiest way to donate is online                                                                                                  Please designate your donation – Women’s Commission

All these accounts are audited. The money will go to the Women’s Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance to develop women in leadership.


Why I’m a Material Girl (sort of)

How does the economy impact women? It’s our daughters trying to get a loan to buy a flat, our mums trying to open a bank account and our sisters wanting a fair deal on child-care. It’s millions of women across the world wanting a route out of poverty.

Now there is a feminine perspective on economic issues, called the W20, an offshoot of the G20 (the group of 19 major economic nations plus the EU).

The actions of the G20 matter to all of us. Like it or not, they control 90% of the global economy and are home to 75% of the world’s population. And the rest of the world is bound to feel the impact of their decisions through trade, finance regulations and jobs.

The G20 has spawned various offshoots –the C20 for civil society, the B20 of business leaders, the Y20 to represent youth and now the W20, to raise women’s voices on economic matters.

The production and consumption of goods, and the wealth this creates, matters to women. And women matter to economics.

The ability of women to access credit, to market their goods and to have training in good practice would give women more respect and more equality, as well as more wealth. I think the passage about the wonderful woman in Proverbs 31 – provider, wife, mother, business woman, home maker – is a good model of what godly women can achieve if they have the opportunity.

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, spoke this week about the G20’s goal to increase the participation of women in the ‘formal’ labour force as a ‘no-brainer’ – it will result in 100 million new jobs for the global economy. And 100 million consumers and tax payers!

Lagarde said, “We know that empowering women boosts economic growth. For example, we have estimates that, if the number of female workers were to increase to the same level as the number of men, GDP in the United States would expand by 5 percent, by 9 percent in Japan, and by 27 percent in India.1

She said there was also evidence that getting more women into secure and well-paid jobs raises overall per capita income AND reduces income inequality.

Young mothers in the developed world might worry that they are being forced back into the workforce, but for many women in poverty in the developing world, a job means basic security and provides independence.

The W20 wants to remind the men of the G20 (and it is nearly all men) that women matter.

Lagarde identified three crucial ways that girls and women can get a hand-up in their working life.

Getting an education: one extra year of primary school boosts a woman’s earning potential by 10 to 20 percent. One extra year of secondary school boosts her earning potential by 25%.4

Getting a good job: IMF research notes that 9 out of of countries have at least one major legal restriction that makes it difficult for women to work.11

Getting help with family: it might be good child care or tax breaks or schemes that can help dads take time form work.

“The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.” Aung San Suu Kyi

It’s a package of measures that families, governments and business can take to support women’s economic empowerment.

So my daughter can get good child care and my sister can get a loan for her flat, and my friend in Burundi can start a business.

ACTION: Read Christine Lagarde’s speech in full – the statistics on women and economics are really interesting (I’m not kidding)

If you never read financial or business articles, make a start so you can be ‘literate’ in money matters.