Why we need greater investment in women

March 7, 2024
Woman in black hijab speaks into microphone

Nora Altwaijri, a Generation17 Young Leader, presenting at a conference supported by the Saudia Arabian Ministry of Sport.

Photo: Saudi Arabian Ministry of Sport

Promoting gender equality is crucial for global prosperity and a healthy planet, yet significant challenges face us because of the projected US$360 billion annual deficit in gender-equality measures by 2030.  

On International Women’s Day, I want to reflect on the importance of investing in women, which goes beyond the basic realm of human rights. It is a cornerstone of our collective progress in a swiftly evolving world.  

Diversity, particularly gender diversity, drives success. Different backgrounds, cultures, knowledge, and gender perspectives enrich collective endeavours with invaluable insights and creativity. It's this diversity that propels us toward more robust solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.

We've moved beyond the outdated eras of inequality, recognizing that inclusivity and equality are not just moral imperatives but crucial elements for advancing as a united global community. Women faced tough barriers, always having to prove their value, amidst deep-seated biases and limitations. These challenges have not only underscored the necessity for resilience and the relentless pursuit of excellence among women, they have also illuminated the profound impact and undeniable value of investing in women's potential. 

A pivotal moment in my journey that emphasized the importance of this investment occurred when I received the support from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Sport to launch Muatalaf, a social development programme that empowers young leaders by creating and managing communities to create a positive and sustainable impact. Muatalaf led to the establishment of 12 vibrant communities, each contributing to fields such as cybersecurity and leadership development. This significant milestone was not just an endorsement of my achievements but a recognition of the potential impact that empowered women can have on societal progress. The launch of Muatalaf became a conduit for amplifying the roles of young women in leading community-driven change, showcasing their capacity to lead with vision and purpose. It serves to illustrate how empowering women catalyzes change that extends far beyond individual projects, enriching entire communities. 

In today's rapidly evolving world, the push for greater gender diversity in leadership is not just a positive trend; it's a necessary evolution. Organizations that lead in this space not only set a benchmark for economic performance but also contribute to a broader societal shift towards equality and inclusion. They prove that investing in women's leadership is investing in their organization's future success.

Woman in hijabs with SDG signs

In today's rapidly evolving world, the push for greater gender diversity in leadership is a necessary evolution and is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Photo: UNDP Saudi Arabia

The essence is in recognizing that diversity, especially gender diversity, enhances decision-making processes, fosters innovative thinking, and contributes to financial success. Having women in leadership positions, whether as entrepreneurs, chief executives, or other key positions, not merely a positive development; it is a necessary evolution for both the public and private sectors to foster the full spectrum of human potential to create more resilient, innovative, and equitable workplaces.

In our journey towards gender equality, it's crucial to acknowledge both the strides we've made and the hurdles that persist. I am deeply inspired by the pioneering women whose bravery and ingenuity have carved paths in spaces where there were none and set the stage for future generations. Nonetheless, gender biases and underrepresentation in leadership roles continue to present significant challenges, framing our greatest opportunity for a tangible and transformative change.

My message to all the young women aspiring to make a difference; your journey is invaluable, your perspective is needed, and your potential is boundless! 

Remember, every step you take as a young woman change-maker not only propels you forward, but also lifts up those who will follow in your footsteps. You are part of a powerful continuum of women leaders shaping the world for the better. So, go forth with courage and conviction, your contribution is essential, your leadership is needed, and your time is now