Women first, prosperity for all. A recent 5 country study, commissioned by the British Council, on the mutual interdependence of social enterprise initiatives and women’s empowerment movements provides insights into the strategies for—and barriers to—long-term change.
Research done in India highlighted the multiple meanings behind “women first,” including the significance of women’s leadership and the importance of attending to the needs of women beneficiaries and employees in the social enterprise sector.
Financial empowerment as a way toward social transformation
There are an estimated two million social enterprises in India, according to a previous British Council report mapping the social enterprise ecosystem. About a third (more than 600,000) focus on empowering women and girls as primary beneficiaries of their social mission.
The prominence of employment and income generation among social enterprise strategies for women’s empowerment in India reflects the unique strengths of the hybrid social enterprise model. Applying market logics to social issues is the sector’s raison d’être.
The market-based hybridity of social enterprise remains its distinguishing feature, and economic participation can indeed enable women to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order. And yet social enterprise offers significant opportunities beyond financial gain—many organizations represented in our study address issues of sanitation, childcare, and women’s representation as decision-makers in their communities. Often, especially in health and education, these organizations empower women and girls alongside men and boys. If putting women first is to bring “prosperity for all,” we must expand the reach of economic empowerment as well as the definition of prosperity.(Story courtesy : ssir.org)