Leaders of Sustainable Development
How can leaders become ambassadors for gender equality? Almas Jiwani, CEO of the Almas Jiwani Foundation and President Emeritus of UN Women Canada; Internationally renowned speaker & Philanthropist, talks to us about why she continues to advocate specifically for women’s equal rights and gives global insights into why the role of women is the best clue to a nation’s growth potential.
Thomson Reuters Sustainability: Please tell us a bit about your journey and your current role?
Almas Jiwani: Well the journey is very interesting. For over fifteen years I have remained the vocal champion of women’s social, economic, and political empowerment locally and globally. Outside my role as a Founder and President of the United Nations Women Canada National Committee (UNWCC) I have travelled to almost every corner of the world, addressed hundreds of parliamentarians from over 42 countries, conversed and interacted with several heads of states and first ladies, addressed millions of women entrepreneurs and students and worked alongside icons like Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Deepak Chopra.
But the more I wandered, the more I got confused about the fact that despite so much effort taking place all around the world, the monster of poverty and inequality was just getting stronger and stronger.
That lead me to believe that we need to have some more out of the box solutions. Hence why myself and my colleagues decided to form the Almas Jiwani Foundation (AJF). AJF is emerging as a next generation institution set to catalyze the paradigm shift needed in shaping a world without poverty, inequality and violence.
TRS: How does your current work help contribute to global sustainability?
AJ: The Almas Jiwani Foundation is an organization set in a new paradigm by people from different walks of life cognizant of the realities, recent failures and challenges ahead. They carry with them a promise of finding a niche for a next generation institution and innovative ideas to solve the world’s problems.
TRS: Why does empowering women help make the planet more sustainable?
AJ: At the moment –
43 percent of the world’s agriculture, and 47 percent of the global fisheries, labor forces are represented by women,
…according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank. These hard-working women produce more than half of the world’s food despite being less than half of the labor force.
In developing countries, 60 to 80 percent of food production is accounted for by women.
According to the FAO, if the world’s women farmers had the same access to resources as men, 150 million people could be lifted out of poverty.
A crop yield gap of about 20-30 percent between male and female farmers is largely due to differential access to resources and inputs.
These and many other realities call for empowering women for a sustainable future.
TRS: What would you tell young people looking at all the problems faced by our world?
AJ: The 21st century has brought opportunities to our doorsteps, the learnings of the past are our beacon and connectedness has become a key niche for the youth of the world. If the current demographic dynamics remains as it is for at least twenty years more, I can see youth of the countries like Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Congo, Chad, Nigeria and Afghanistan would be leading the world from the places likes Europe and Japan; because the latter are greying, and the median age of the former countries is 14-20 years at the moment.
Read the complete interview at Thomson Reuters | Leaders of Sustainable Development | Almas Jiwani: Champion of Gender Equality
About Almas Jiwani
Almas Jiwani is the CEO of the Almas Jiwani Foundation, President Emeritus of UN Women Canada; and an internationally renowned speaker and Philanthropist. The audacious catalyst and epitome for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. She is internationally renowned for her efforts to encourage women’s social, economic, and political empowerment. She spearheads initiatives where corporate growth intersects with humanitarian development.
A model of perseverance and determination, Ms. Jiwani’s efforts to strengthen women’s economic capacity as entrepreneurs and producers have earned her accolades. She plays a crucial role in building networks among charitable institutions and socially responsible businesses.
Ms. Jiwani is a powerful and influential speaker and she continues to travel across the globe to deliver keynote addresses, speeches, and presentations on improving the status of women. She addressed over 400 parliamentarians from 42 countries on the benefits of economically empowering women and the roles and responsibilities of parliamentarians at the International Assembly in the Dominican Republic and Quebec City.
More recently, she addressed the Pan Africa Media Conference, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, World Bank, Women in Leadership Forum in Abu Dhabi, African Development Bank conference, and the World Forum alongside Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and holistic health/ New Age guru Deepak Chopra.
Insights from Almas Jiwani
“People often ask me why we choose to focus specifically on women,” Jiwani said, “My answer is simple – we focus on women and girls because evidence accrued over decades of international development work have proven that the status and role of women is the best clue to a nation’s growth potential, and is a key factor in determining a society’s standard of living.”
The Almas Jiwani Foundation (AJF) is an organization set in a new paradigm by people from different walks of life cognizant of the realities, recent failures and challenges ahead.
The Goals of AJF are simple, but important:
- We are seeking to alleviate poverty by focusing on girls and women in select regions. We intend to improve their quality of life by providing or improving access to modern technology, and thus quality education and energy.
- We advocate for the rights of women in different cultures and societies.
- We empower women through entrepreneurship and energy nexus and a top down technology thrust.
- We will create a sisterhood of 5 E-Champions across the globe spawning a network of benefactors and beneficiaries.
- Reduce stigma and discrimination faced by women and girls living in hostile and under developed regions of the world
- Work towards environmental regeneration, the usage and conservation of clean water, and promote hygiene and sanitation through education.
- We empower both women and men with skills and tools conducive to equitable knowledge, resources and power sharing for a sustainable lifestyle.
- And finally, we empower women and men and instill in them that everyone should be required to have equal access to resources and decision making and to be recognized, valued and respected in society.
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali
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