Gender Equality For $3.79 A Day?

Why We Must Truly Invest In Women Today.

By Zahra Yarahmadi

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we cannot leave behind us the emphasis on the invaluable role women have played throughout history. We must continue to focus on increasing the role women can play in our future. If we hope to tackle the problems that we face, not only here in the United States but on a global scale, we will fall short if we leave half of our society without a voice. In the hearts and minds of women around the world is the next Google, the next Facebook, the next Big Thing that will change the world in ways unforeseen even by its creators. I have worked advising startups in Silicon Valley for years and helped many chart a path to growth and profitability, and have seen what it takes to turn a dream into reality. As Women’s History Month fades in the rearview mirror, we must invest in women so they have the same chances to build their own ideas into reality.

Over my career I have learned how to build and strengthen businesses, first in my home in Iran before coming to the United States and doing the same. I have spent years helping startups navigate the dog-eat-dog world that is Silicon Valley, assisting them with how to build a business plan around the Big Idea in their heads.. Just as this cannot be done without a proper plan, without properly supportive investments, the women in our society cannot excel without the same. However even with world-beating business and financial strategies in hand, women will not be able to get ahead until we all work to erode the barriers they must overcome to achieve success.

$1,383 For Equality

To achieve gender equality by 2030 as called for in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals will require $6.4 trillion annually, which requires we increase our investment by $360 billion a year. This works out to $1,383 per person

A small price to pay for equality.

For International Women’s Day, the United Nations called on the world to ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,’ and that progress not only benefits women but benefits us all. The rise of Gender Lens Investing (GLI) shows that, above and beyond the benefit to women, investing in gender equality pays dividends for society writ large. Every dollar invested in a woman-owned startup delivers twice the return as those founded by men. A rising tide carries all boats, but for too long that has not been the case for women. Investing in women benefits us all, and only relatively minor investments are needed to achieve true progress towards gender equality. That progress can enable all people, women and men alike, to put their full weight behind pushing progress forward.

By leaving women behind, we are in fact leaving ourselves behind. We must heed the UN call to invest in women not just for International Women’s Day, not just for Women’s History month, but every day. Every day, for less than $4 a day, can get us to a gender equal world by the end of the decade.

‘Accelerate Progress’

If we are to heed the UN call, we must do more than simply invest money. We must all work to build an inclusive society, work to foster work environments and community spaces in which women can not just survive but thrive. This starts by building diverse and inclusive workplaces. In my work as a business consultant I cannot stress enough the importance of doing so. A company that fails to invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leaves the majority of the talent pool out in the cold. A business that fails to ensure any and all workers will not only be welcomed but embraced will fall short. Every time. 

Businesses are the most successful at building and growing  a DEI space when they build and grow women in positions of leadership. For decades research has shown the benefits of having women leaders – higher productivity, more collaboration, and greater loyalty. The benefits of female leadership goes well beyond the boardroom. When it comes to war and conflict, sustainable peace is 35% more likely if women have a voice and remain involved in the process. Placing women in positions of leadership helps us all, and helps all businesses. In the same vein, investing in women-led initiatives and helping women build their own businesses creates a more equitable future. From the factory floor to the executive suite, we must invest in women at all levels.

Every Little Thing

There are not as many differences between a success and a failure as people would like to think, but the differences all happen at the margins. When I built a fashion label from the ground up in Iran, I did not have the type of support that exists in the United States today. Some of the biggest banks on Wall Street have begun to funnel major resources into women led enterprises. When I began consulting with Silicon Valley startups on how to build business and financial strategies, I saw even more clearly the benefits to be wrought by taking advantage of all available to them. Investing in women will help women, but investing in systems which involved and elevate women will create a self-sustaining and self-strengthening cycle which benefits us all.

With over 15 years of dynamic experience at the crossroads of finance, entrepreneurship, and sustainable growth, Zahra Yarahmadi excels in strategic financial consulting. Passionate about mentoring startups, she has aided over 100 ventures in securing $200 million in pre-seed and seed funds in the last four years. Her unique perspective, gained from working with both venture capital firms and startups, provides a deep understanding of aligning goals for sustainable business success. She is the founder and CEO of BG Financial Consulting

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