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  • Published on: 13 Mar 2012
  • Source: Guardian UK

The need for women's empowerment
While International Women's Day last week highlighted some examples of progress towards female empowerment across the world, it also served as a stark reminder of how far there is still to travel on the journey towards gender equality.

Twenty years ago, the final agreement from the first Rio Earth Summit, Agenda 21, set out actions to strengthen the role of women in sustainability by enabling them to participate equally, particularly in decision making.

While there have been advances since Rio 1992, research published yesterday by the Institute of Leadership and Management found that nearly half of women working in banking felt that they faced career barriers because of their gender and that 17% of FTSE 100 companies have no female directors.

The pioneers interviewed as part of the Regeneration Project, and showcased in the video above, have differing views on where significant potential for positive change exists today.

Vandana Shiva the founder of Navdanya, suggests that the entire economic system should shift to a more caring model: "Women are the ones who have been left to look after...the care economy; the sustenance economy, people's basic that care economy it isn't money that rules, it isn't money that is the measure of whether you're doing well or is the wellbeing of people [and] the health of the planet."

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute points to the potential impact on female empowerment of access to family planning services: "There are 215 million women in the world today who want to plan their familes but who do not have access to family planning services. If we can accelerate the shift to smaller families, that makes it easier to erradicate poverty. If we're erradicating poverty, that accelertates the shift to smaller families, so we have this mutually reinforcing relationship between poverty and population stabilisation."
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