Everyone has a part to play in advancing gender equality – from backing women-led businesses financially, to supporting the next wave of leaders at a grassroots level, and amplifying female voices. Here, we look at the current state of play and how we can contribute to propelling women and girls forward to create a better future for all.

Volunteering – to give back and to grow

Kate Wickett, former CEO of Sydney WorldPride, is passionate about the benefits of volunteering – for the community, but also from a business and career perspective. “I think it's really important, particularly in a corporate space, to empathise and have compassion for people that don't necessarily have the same life as you do,” says Kate. If you’re a business leader consider giving yourself and your team time to volunteer in work hours – whether that’s with an organisation that supports women and girls, or by offering an internal mentor program for women.

Outside the workplace, coaching is an area where more women are needed, particularly at a grassroots level. Studies show that girls aren’t seeing enough women role models to encourage their involvement in sport and physical activity before they reach typical dropout age. Despite the representation gap, appetite is there – with signs of increased participation of girls in sport following recent successes at the elite level, like the CommBank Matildas in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023.

What volunteering could look like for you:

  • Find a not-for-profit that welcomes corporate or casual volunteers
  • Mentor a woman in your industry
  • Coach a sports team

Invest in women and girls – it’s the right thing to do and better for the economy

“Women face significant obstacles to financial empowerment and equal participation, despite studies showing time and time again that investing in women and girls leads to better outcomes for communities and the economy,” says Fiona McAuley, Head of Women in Focus. For example, if young women transitioned from tertiary education into the workforce at the same rate as young men, the Australian economy would gain $8 billion.

For women-led businesses, access to capital remains a critical barrier to growth. Australia has some of the worst gender balance in the world when it comes to the distribution of venture capital funding. SBE and Deloitte Access Economics found that despite funding increasing tenfold between FY18 and FY22, still only 0.7% of all private start-up funding in FY22 went to solely female founding teams. Meanwhile, research continues to show that startups founded by women are significantly better financial investments – like the Boston Consulting Group study, which found that for every dollar of investment raised, women-led startups generate 10% more revenue than companies led by men and earn 35% higher return.

How you can invest in women and girls:

  • Shop from and support women-led businesses
  • Facilitate networking connections for women in business, especially if you can see an opportunity for success
  • If you’re in the venture capital space, prioritise funding more female founders

Start conversations – shine the spotlight on female perspectives

With more people – including men and young people – engaged in the current state of women’s successes and challenges, the closer we can get to closing important gaps. There’s no shortage of women doing incredible things, but female perspectives are underrepresented in the media landscape.

“If we don’t have women as experts, as writers, as reporters, we are never going to see the issues framed in the way we need them framed, and we’re never going to find the solutions we need to find,” says Tarla Lambert, Editor in Chief of Women’s Agenda, on a panel at a recent Women in Focus event. To stay up to speed on women’s issues, seek out women-led media outlets or female journalists who cover the news and views that affect how women live, learn and work.

How you can join the conversation:

  • Share a podcast like Leading Women with a friend
  • If you’re a business leader, consult your team on how the organisation could better support women in your workplace
  • Tell a woman who inspires you that she’s amazing – or go a step further and nominate her for an award, like the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards

What’s next?

Moving the dial on gender equality is something we can all contribute to in different ways on any day of the year. And it’s critical for all of us, because when women are given equal opportunities to learn, earn and lead, entire communities thrive.

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