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Corporate Social Responsibility

Why investing in women and girls is cruicial to a sustainable future

May 4, 2015

In the United States, it has been widely known that women make less than their male counterparts at work. (In 2013, women made 22 percent less than their male peers, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research.) When attention is turned to developing economies, it is too often that women are underutilized in the labor force, let alone underpaid.

At GreenBiz Forum 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona, Christensen Global Strategies CEO Aimee Christensen sat down with BSR's CEO Aron Cramer and the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors' senior fellow of global philanthropy Heather Grady to talk about why investment in women is so crucial in the face of climate change.

"I sometimes feel as though there's a risk that we specialize ourselves right out of seeing the bigger picture," Cramer said. "When it comes to climate, it's absolutely clear that we can't solve climate without thinking about economic development and vice versa. It's equally clear that economic development will either slow down or go into reverse if we don't think more seriously about the role of women in that, and the value of investing in women."

"It's clear, and in fact this is been recognized, by businesses, by development agencies, and by the IPCC that women will be disproportionately disadvantaged by climate change," Cramer said. If not given the opportunities to serve as part of the solution, Cramer noted, will often bear the worst negative effects of climate change in terms of health, housing and nutrition.

Grady, who has spent a lot of time working on the ground in at-risk communities, knows how much economies have to gain from employing the other half of the available workforce.

"When I spent all those years working on development at the community level and at the national level in a number of countries, it was very obvious how important women's role was in economic development," she said.

"If you look t growth of GDP or inclusive economies, whatever way you look at it, a high labor force participation force by women tends to really fuel that kind of growth and that kind of prosperity," Grady continued. "Women at the really poor households need a lot of economic opportunities, because otherwise, they can't get into global supply chains. They can't provide a better future for their children."