New York City Tops New Womenabling Cities Index

A new accounting of the most supportive cities for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs was recently released at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, just ahead of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WE Cities Index lists the 25 cities globally that provide the most supportive capital, technology, talent, culture and markets for growth-oriented women, a population they refer to as “high potential women entrepreneurs.” Those cities are:DellWECitieschart

  1. New York City
  2. the San Francisco Bay Area
  3. London
  4. Stockholm
  5. Singapore
  6. Toronto
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Sydney
  9. Paris
  10. Seattle
  11. Munich
  12. Austin
  13. Beijing
  14. Hong Kong
  15. Taipei
  16. Shanghai
  17. Tokyo
  18. Mexico City
  19. São Paulo
  20. Seoul
  21. Milan
  22. Delhi
  23. Johannesburg
  24. Jakarta
  25. Istanbul

For an interactive look at how each of these cities ranks in the five major index areas, visit this web page.

The WE Cities Index follows on the heels of the Global Women Entrepreneurs Scorecard, which was released the prior year. That effort analyzed 21 variables in a five-element framework, and ranked 31 countries around the globe for their supportive policies and programs to help women scale their enterprises. The findings of the country-focused effort (which was supported in part from Womenable) were highlighted in this Womenable blogpost from 2015.

Tops on that list were the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom — home to nine of the 25 top-ranked global cities for women entrepreneurs who are shooting for the stars. Godspeed on your journey, ladies!

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New UN Women Report Published

Every five years or so, the United Nations publishes a compendium of facts, statistics and analysis of the status of women around the world. These Progress of the World’s Women reports share statistics related to education, legal justice, social and political empowerment, and economic empowerment. They are truly go-to reports that deserve a spot on every womenabler’s reference shelf.fig.4.6-1

The latest report has recently been published. Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights features an interactive web portal and downloadable chapters, some very detailed (see picture at right) infographics, as well as the full report.

Some of what’s available in this report:

  • A discussion of the negative impact on women’s rights that has resulted from the rise of extremism around the world;
  • The notion that connecting economic and social policy is key to increasing human potential and equal rights (we would agree);
  • Far fewer detailed country-level tables (which we are disappointed by, but they may be archived somewhere); and
  • A listing of ten priorities for public action, including “create more and better jobs for women” (but no mention of economic empowerment through entrepreneurship).

For a list and links to past reports on the Progress of the World’s Women, visit Womenable’s Womenabler Reference Library page. or UN Women’s Progress of the World’s Women page. Finally, here’s a handy link to the 2015 report Executive Summary.

#MakeItHappen on March 8

March 8 marks the celebration of International Women’s Day. The observance began in the early 1900’s to support equal rights for women – including protesting employment discrimination, ending World War I, and voting rights. In early years the celebration date varied somewhat from country to country, but came to be marked on March 8 after a widespread strike in Russia on that date in 1917. And while, in early years the celebration was associated with socialism, its appeal has broadened and is now an official holiday in over a dozen countries. (Read a short history of the day here.)centredinternationalwomensday

This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is “Make It Happen.” The United Nations has a somewhat wordier theme this year: “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!”.

There are now nearly 500 events registered in nearly 40 countries on the International Women’s Day information hub as of now, with over 1,000 expected by March 8. Check out the list and find out about an event near you – or organize your own.

And, don’t forget to share your #womensday activities on social media using the suggested hashtags: #makeithappen, #womensday, #internationalwomensday, #IWD2015, or #PaintItPurple. (Why purple? find out here.) Share photos, too. For photographic inspiration, check out this photo gallery assembled by Thomson Reuters.

Here’s to an inspiring International Women’s Day, during which you will make something happen!

The Envelope Please…

woman_silouette_ribbonIt’s a new year … and the beginning of awards season. In the world of entertainment, it’ll soon be time for the BAFTA Awards, the Eurovision Song Contest, and the Academy Awards (Oscars) in Hollywood. The call is also out for outstanding women business owners – so why not consider nominating yourself or another deserving woman entrepreneur for one of these awards:

  • The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards: Launched in 2006 by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey and Company and the INSEAD business school, these awards focus on start-up enterprises in five world regions. Nominations are open now through the end of February at this link.
  • The International Alliance for Women’s World of Difference Awards: This award recognizes a diverse group of women in corporate, entrepreneurial, public sector and social enterprises who are making a difference to their communities. Nominations are open through February 15. Learn more here.
  • The l’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science program recognizes accomplished women in scientific endeavor, as well as helps younger researchers and supports non-profit organizations focused on women in science or “beauty for all.” To learn more, visit the submitting your project or 2014 awardees pages.

If your idea for recognition is giving back to other women, then consider signing up to be a Global Community Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment, a program offered by UN Women. You can learn more and apply to be a part of it at this link. The sign-up period ends on January 29.

Three other high-profile international awards of note happen later in the year. So mark your calendars and be on the lookout for these awards opportunities:

  • The Anita Borg Institute’s Women of Vision ABIE Awards: This organization, focused on connecting, mentoring and recognizing women in computing, bestows a number of annual awards, including an entrepreneurship award. However, nominations for this award are open in December and January, and are awarded at their annual conference in May of each year.
  • Enterprising Women magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year awards recognize women business owners of accomplishment in a number of business revenue levels. Nominations are open late in the year and awards are given at the magazine’s annual summit and gala in March of each year. Click here to read more about the just-announced 2015 awardees.
  • Nominations for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award have likewise just closed. The annual award, recognizing enterprising spirit and determination in the vein of “La Grande Dame de la Champagne” Madame Clicquot, is now awarded in 27 countries, typically bestowed at a gala event in May of each year. Learn more about the award here.

We’re Loud & We’re Proud

Celebrating women’s empowerment, and voicing protest – the growing power of video messaging

When women get together in many countries around the world, they sing songs of praise and protest. Indeed, song has bound together movements for generations – so why not the women’s movement? We made note of that a few years back, in one of our most popular and forwarded blogposts, “Womenabling Music: uniting cultures and empowering women through song,” and we have also shared historical videos of importance and interest to women’s economic empowerment advocates (such as those highlighted in our 1st quarter e-newsletter from 2011).

This year during Women’s History Month, we again turn our focus on song. First off, we wanted to make sure you get a chance to tap your toes to One Woman, which comes to us from  UN Women; proceeds from song downloads will go to their good cause.

Secondly, there was a recent flashmob social media campaign to mark V Day – celebrated primarily as Valentine’s Day, but more recently used to call attention to the appalling fact that one out of three women (fully one billion women) will be the victims of violence during their lifetime. Under the One Billion Rising moniker (I love their tagline: 1 billion women violated is an atrocity; 1 billion women dancing is a revolution), thousands of local groups got together to perform – flashmob style in some cases – to the song “Break the Chain,” written to highlight the issue. Here’s one flashmob example of the performance of the song, from India:

And here’s the video that’s garnered the highest number of views on YouTube (over 172,000), from San Francisco:

Check out others at onebillionrising.org/livestream. And learn more about the song and the choreography HERE. These are just a few examples of the growing power of social media to deploy aural advocacy. Sing out, sisters!

The UK’s Power Women

The Womenabler has long been a fan of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour – we download and listen to many a show on our long womenabling flights around the globe. Last year, Woman’s Hour followed the trials and tribulations of three women entrepreneurs, pairing them up with mentors and discussing their entrepreneurial growth pains at regular intervals during the year. It was fascinating, illuminating and – we would guess – very inspirational for listeners thinking of starting and growing their own businesses.

womenshourlistpicThis year, they’ve set a new high bar – announcing a Power List of the 100 most powerful women in the UK. The build-up to the announcement was interesting to listen to, as they highlighted the advancement – or lack thereof – of women in business, politics, education, science and sport. It was a thoughtful, open process and the list is an interesting mix of the elite and the street-smart. Of course, #1 on the list is Queen Elizabeth, and many of the others in the ranked top-twenty lists are Dames and Right Honorables (position defines clout, in the UK and elsewhere). However, the list also includes such built-it-not-born-into-it women as singer Adele, noted architect Zaha Hadid, author JK Rowling, and a variety of women in sport, business, politics and civil society.

It’s a wonderful mix of women from a variety of walks of life, and generations, but some have commented that it’s not a very ethnically diverse list and that there were political and face-saving motivations for embarking upon this quest. But then, the halls of power are still relatively homogenous. By our eye, this women’s power list is much more diverse on so many levels than a gender-blind power list would be. And, whatever the motivations may have been, it’s a wonderful window on the world of women’s influence in the United Kingdom, a good conversation-starter about who may be missing from the list, and a feather in the cap of a fine radio program that, in our view, deserves more than a moment in the spotlight.

Check out the Woman’s Hour Power List, the stories behind how the list was chosen, and some of the commentary following the announcement of the list – including the chagrin of some that the Duchess of Cambridge was not included in the list.

Well done, Woman’s Hour!

Lean In Sparks Push Back

Leaning in: It began, perhaps, with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s December 2010 TEDWomen talk on why there are so few women leaders (which has now garnered 2.1 million views on TED.com and YouTube). Her ideas were further refined in her May 2011 commencement speech at Barnard College, and have now been expanded and formalized into a new book, Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, which is – in true social media fashion – feeding into the launch of a web-based community, leanin.org.
leanin

All of these missives revolve around Sandberg’s view that too many women shy away from stepping up to the plate at the workplace, muffling their own ambitions and thereby short-changing their careers. On the face of it, not too controversial, but my, oh my what a firestorm of responses her views have sparked! Womenable pointed to the juxtaposition of the TEDWomen talk and Anne-Marie Slaughter’s counterpoint piece in the July/August 2012 issue of the Atlantic, Why Women Still Can’t Have it All, as one of the top womenabling news and events of 2012.

The well-orchestrated March 11th publication of Sandberg’s book has been met with a firestorm of commentary, however, not all of it positive. Here’s just a selection of related op-eds and direct commentary and coverage:

What is our view on all of this? Well, we have a few thoughts and reactions to this recent firestorm:

  1. This is a very western, industrialized economy conversation. In nearly 3/4 of countries around the world (specifically 141 economies investigated by the World Bank in their Women, Business and the Law report), women are at a legal disadvantage compared to men in one or more areas – so no matter how hard they lean in, they may not achieve equality of opportunity;
  2. The “lean in” exhortation ignores the double standard to which many women in the workplace are held. Frequently, exhibiting ambition and leaning in are met with resistance, undercutting, and being labeled a “rhymes with witch;” and
  3. This discussion is very much taking place in a corporate environment. In particular, it ignores the fact that many women (perhaps after leaning in to no avail) are taking their futures in their own hands, and are starting their own businesses. (Of course, in our entrepreneurial world, there is a similar conversation about why more women business owners are not scaling the heights of entrepreneurial success.)

All that said, of course, what may be the most important point is that, by circling our feminist wagons and shooting down a message and point of view from an important and visible woman business leader, we may damage our collective cause. After all, as pointedly observed by former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

So here’s what we say: all views are welcome, and many strategies are needed. We not only need to lean in, we need to push back, raise voices, change laws and change minds to advance the cause of equality of opportunity for all.