How Effective Female Leadership Can Transform an Economy

Despite grassroots initiatives to foster gender equality, a male-dominated business culture remains firmly in place. According to the Women’s Workplace Equality Index, the top 10 countries fostering legal frameworks for workforce equality include the following:

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. New Zealand
  4. Spain
  5. Mexico
  6. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Lithuania
  9. Iceland
  10. Latvia

Notable absences in the top 10 include the United States. Of the 189 countries evaluated, the bottom 10 (those which do not espouse gender equality in the workplace) include the following:

180. Oman

181. Bahrain

182. Kuwait

183. Iraq

184. Mauritania

185. Iran

186. Sudan

187. Qatar

188. Syria

189. Yemen

The concentration of countries where gender equality is absent in the workforce and in society is most evident in Africa and the Middle East. It is worth pointing out that the report found that countries which provide maximum protections for women vis-a-vis protecting women from violence include many Latin American and Asian countries such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Iceland, Panama, Philippines, South Korea, Croatia, and the Dominican Republic.

Female leadership

Once again, the countries which have little protections for women from violence are the African countries and Middle Eastern countries such as Mali, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Sudan, and Qatar.

There are correlations between gender equality and a country’s overall success, and this manifests in a more prosperous society. Countries which put the necessary legal frameworks in place to empower women in the workforce, to encourage gender equality across the board, and to respect the rights of all people in general are leading the way in economic development, innovation, and prosperity.

Getting there is no mean feat however. It takes courage and determination to change entrenched systems and thought processes. These social and cultural changes invariably lead to economic changes which bring more people into the workforce, grow the economy, lift the burden on the individual head of a household, and expand economic opportunities to all citizens of a country.

How Can the Empowerment of Women Lead to Better Outcomes?

The absurdity of the question is best answered with another question: How can the empowerment of men lead to better outcomes? In other words, a society can only prosper when each citizen, permanent resident, or alien is given opportunities and allowed to prosper. The intentional subjugation of one gender, has no positive externalities and no future growth potential. Patriarchal societies tend to suppress creativity and are driven by a culture of fear.

Male-dominated cultures are sorely lacking in terms of market reach, innovation, enterprise, and inclusivity. By allowing women to reach their full educational potential, business potential, and career aspirations, repressive countries will soon find themselves invited to join the ranks of the world’s major economies where people are encouraged to speak their minds, share their vision, and embrace diversity.

Who Are These Female Game Changes and What Do They Hope to Achieve?

The world’s leaders are a mix of visionaries – men and women – who seek to advance progressive ideas, future tech, innovation and opportunity. The most visionary female leaders of our time include the likes of Nina Vaca, Suzy Batiz, Ali Brown, Stephanie Bagley, Amy Cosper, and the focal point of our expose, Isabel dos Santos. Each of these women has contributed immensely to society in some way or another. They have broken with tradition; they are strong, driven, and capable of effecting change in the world. By stepping forward and leading from the front, they are now the icons of female leadership and people are taking notice.

Isabel dos Santos presents as one of the most important examples of hope and change. Born in Azerbaijan, she is the daughter of longtime former Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos. The president appointed her to lead the Angolan state oil firm, Sonangol and she used her extensive contacts in Angola and abroad to build a veritable empire. Forbes estimates her 2019 net worth at $2.3 billion, and she ranks as #1008 on the billionaires list for 2019.

Isabel Dos Santos: How Her Leadership Inspires So Many People

Dos Santos grew up in a patriarchal era where men made the decisions. Her father was not one of them. He actively encouraged his daughter to be the best that she could be. She attended prestigious schools in England, notably Cobham Hall and later King’s College in London.

An elite education was the first step in the process towards empowering herself and later her fellow countrymen towards success. She went on to graduate with an electrical engineering degree which she used to great effect throughout her career. Dos Santos understands how important education is in the advancement of opportunity for women, particularly in Africa.

As head of many corporations spanning telecommunications, mining, construction, finance and beyond, she has enjoyed first-hand encounters with all aspects of the macroeconomic business arena. She has been directly involved in negotiating multi-billion-dollar deals in an environment which typically frowns upon women in leadership positions. Her tenacity, vision, and determination have fueled her success over the years, catapulting her into the elite status as one of Africa’s wealthiest women.

Isabel dos Santos does not let her wealth and success get to her head however, she uses her tremendous influence to further CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives. She routinely creates scholarship opportunities, leadership development drives, investments in community-driven initiatives and various philanthropic objectives. Isabel Dos Santos’ website spells out in detail how she works to empower the next generation of African champions, and how successful women benefit everyone.

As a case in point, Isabel dos Santos has taken a particular liking to setting up strawberry fields in Huila province in Angola. This grassroots initiative was designed to develop the local economy by creating a commercial infrastructure for the inhabitants. Women in the area now have a personal project which they can be invested in. Dos Santos believes in prioritizing the development of Africa, particularly Angola which is near and dear to her heart.

This provides work and earning potential, growth and development options for the farmers. The added economic stimulus derived through these types of initiatives have knock-on effects throughout society. As soon as one individual makes a change, other individuals are encouraged to follow suit. This is the crux of her philosophy – effecting change one individual at a time.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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