A world where all girls can achieve their potential
Ours is a world divided by several disparities, and gender is one of them. While popular portrayals in the international media highlight the modern superwoman figure who can have it all and do it all, the reality in many parts of the world is quite different. Child marriage, sex trafficking of young girls across borders, lack of access to education for girls at all or being forced by circumstances to drop out of school at an early age – these are just some of the barriers many girls face to achieving their potential.
I come from a country where both of these worlds co-exist. We have women heading technology companies in India (IBM, Facebook, Intel and HP, for example) as well as Indian women heading multinational corporations (Indra Nooyi of Pepsico). On the other hand, we have skewed sex ratios (Haryana, Rajasthan), and girls with no access to primary education (female literacy in the state of Bihar is as low as 63% in the latest census data).
#whatIreallyreallywant as a woman, a sustainability practitioner and a strong advocate of SDG 5 is a world where all women have the opportunity to realize their potential. That can only happen when we achieve the goals of education, safety, maternal and child health; equal pay for equal work; dialogue on diversity and inclusion in our offices; and strong support among women and men alike to mentor women in the workplace.
My role at Ericsson, first in India and now in the Middle East, gives me the unique opportunity to look at these issues closely, and contribute through our many sustainability and corporate responsibility projects.
Some examples of how we are contributing to gender equality include:
- Focusing on women and girls wherever possible in our education programs such as Connect to Learn(especially at secondary level)
- Tailoring education programs to address the specific challenges faced by girls and women. For example, our joint program with PLAN International Networked Learning Centers using Technology for Adolescent Gırls and Women in India’s National Capital Region addresses the twin issues of safety and mobility among girls by locating learning centers in the communities where the girls reside. Lack of safety is a major reason why women often drop out at the secondary school or college level in India, and by using technology and ICT tools as well as selecting the locations carefully, this project seeks to address that.
- Making sure that girls are not left out and have access to quality teaching and learning environments even in challenging geographies and life circumstances, such as our Connect to Learn project for refugee children in Iraq in partnership with Asiacell and IRC
- Bringing men on board to champion the cause. We focus on what men can do to address the inequalities and discrimination that women face. Last year, male employees at Ericsson were encouraged to sign the UN’s HeForShe pledge.
To borrow from the American actress Ashley Rickards, “The power you have is to be the best version of yourself you can be, so you can create a better world.” We all have a part to play in the creation of a better world – one in which we work together make sure that all girls and women have the right to realize their full potential.