Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) is central to a country’s economic development. It can be measured using various indicators in terms of accessing and using resources to produce more goods and services that result in economic gains. One of the dimensions of achieving the WEE through entrepreneurship is instilling the right entrepreneurial orientation, culture, governance and education.
A woman’s formative years in teaching and later in her career depend on the type of socialization she is exposed to. It is therefore imperative to seek evidence on the type of education and socialization to which women and girls are exposed and to infer the impact this exposure may have on entrepreneurial decisions, including the types and the size of businesses that women ultimately have in their working lives.
By chance observations, women run businesses. In fact, the majority of micro and small businesses are owned by women. But the question is, are they doing a lucrative business? What militant factors contribute to women’s economic powerlessness? Can we ask a little to understand if the issues in question are related to entrepreneurial culture and skills? What skills do girls and women have that can prepare them for gainful employment and entrepreneurship?
Clearly, having only the technical skills may not prepare someone for the challenges and complexities of navigating the rugged terrain of a business or work environment; it takes extra armor to cushion the turbulence of formal or informal employment.
Soft skills/life skills or transferable skills can be a game-changer in preparing girls for remunerative engagements that can contribute to women’s economic empowerment.
What are these soft skills? There are many synonyms for soft skills such as life skills, transferable skills or 21st century skills. The World Health Organization has developed metrics to determine what soft skills are in tandem with Unicef’s global framework on transferable skills. Unicef summarizes skills into three groups: cognitive, social and emotional skills.
These skills are rare and unique and are necessary to form a holistic person ready for employability and entrepreneurship in 21st century economies. These skills are also prerequisites for maintaining mental balance. They are necessary during the education of a child or adolescent and they ultimately determine how the learner reacts to the working environment. Research evidence on the effectiveness of these skills will improve the design and implementation of policies and programs to empower women and girls.
The government introduced a competency-based curriculum in basic education and emphasized competency-based education and training. We must continually engage in conversations and research to assess the impact of these interventions on women’s economic empowerment.
For example, Kenyatta University’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Center’s Initiative for What Works to Advance Women’s Economic Empowerment is a growth trajectory focused on what works to generate grounded policies and programs. on evidence. Its approach is to engage relevant stakeholders to influence gender-responsive policies to improve women’s economic empowerment.
Another important dimension is the strengthening of women’s participation on boards of directors. The presence of women on boards of directors is known to improve the independence and consequent performance of boards of directors in public and private organizations.
When women sit on boards, they are also known to help improve the quality of governance in boardrooms, as they bring different perspectives to discussions, making boards more interactive. . Where we have political behavior on boards, women play a key role in dampening discussions as they focus on real issues that bring them to the board. They have a way of instilling discipline wherever they are because naturally they are disciplined.
Representation of women on boards is more likely to hold CEOs accountable for poor performance. This then means that women on boards are beneficial to shareholders and can increase board effectiveness. Research has shown that a number of countries and their governments, for example in Asia, the United States and Europe, are advocating for more female positions on corporate boards.
Research has also shown that female representation on boards improves asset accumulation and increases share ownership. They are also known to be less likely to default on their loans, a quality that can improve their creditworthiness, thereby increasing the capacity for business development.
Kenya’s women’s economic empowerment policies and programs should therefore aim to break the traditional glass ceiling through the representation of more women on corporate boards. This can only be achieved through an evaluation of existing policies and programs and scaling up what works.