By Carrie Hutchison – Manager, Marketing and Communication at Calvert Foundation, twitter: @carriehutchi
I’ve spent the past four months immersed in launching Calvert Foundation’s new Women INvesting in Women INitiative (WIN-WIN). Which means I’ve spent the last four months talking, writing, tweeting, and learning about women. And while I will never tire of women, I’m just going to stop talking about them for a minute to say this: I think men are pretty great, too. And I know they are critical to this whole women’s empowerment thing.
I have had the benefit of being raised by a father who is a self-described feminist. Someone who encouraged my sister and me in all we did, whether it was breaking the 3-point shooting record in high school basketball or starring in school plays. (I’ll let those who know me tell you which one is more dramatic, me or my sis.) He did the same for the thousands of students he taught and coached and mentored over his 35 years of teaching at a public high school. He is also – like 49 percent of the U.S. population – a guy. And it helps to have more than just the 51 percent of the population that are women working to change a culture that currently allows stats like these to continue:
- On average, women are paid 77 cents for every dollar men are paid for doing the same job. (Institute for Women’s Policy Research)
This isn’t just an issue here in the States. As Melanne Verveer, the U.S. State Department’s ambassador at large for global women’s issues, wrote in Foreign Policy recently, women are a global economic issue:
“It’s no coincidence that those countries that deny women basic human rights are some of the poorest and least stable. According to the World Economic Forum, countries where men and women are closer to enjoying equal rights are far more economically competitive than those where the gender gap has left women and girls with limited or no access to medical care, education, elected office, and the marketplace.”
The day after we launched WIN-WIN in New York, I had the privilege of attending The Daily Beast/Newsweek’s Women in the World Summit, a three-day event telling the stories and challenges women face in different political, economic, cultural, and geographic settings. Some of the stories were gruesome (forced prostitution in Central America), some frustrating (women who fought for change during the Arab Spring movement are now being shut out of leadership positions), and some inspiring (the young entrepreneurs of sOccketball bring light to villages lacking power in Nigeria).
But some of my favorite speakers there were men (such as actor Gael García Bernal, who is working on a documentary about the issue of forced prostitution in Mexico). And as I looked around at the audience, I wished I saw more men.
As leaders, fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, friends, mentors, and more, the fact remains that men are often better positioned than women to make the changes we need to create a more equitable world.
So I’m asking the gentlemen: Check out WIN-WIN. But also attend the next Women in the World Summit. Serve as a mentor to women at your office. Encourage your daughters to become scientists and mathematicians and politicians. This will be good for your soul, but also very likely for your wallets. Because as we here at Calvert Foundation like to say (repeatedly, apparently), investing in women is smart economics.
Oh, and Dad – happy birthday (May 8th)! You don’t have to share it with Mother’s Day this year. Not that you ever minded.