The ripple effect of investing in women and girls


By Julie Reilly, CEO, Australian Women Donors Network

The annual celebration of International Women’s Day reminds us of the enormous contribution of women, as we celebrate their economic, political and social achievements around the world and here in Australia.

Inevitably IWD also draws our attention to the reality that women despite many advances, whether in developing and developed economies, remain over-represented in disadvantage, and under-represented in positions of power and influence.

We are reminded of the significant untapped potential of women and girls to strengthen the societies and economies of all nations, including our own.

At the Australian Women Donors Network, we work to catalyse investment in women and girls.  We have a diverse, influential community of supporters from philanthropy, business, government and the community sector who recognise investment in women as the single most effective driver of social change.

Gender Equality – why we need to Make it Happen

In Australia:
  • almost one in every seven women lives below the poverty line
  • nearly 1.5 million Australian women live with financial exclusion, without the simple financial tools now required to navigate everyday life - such as a bank account, credit or debit card, access to moderate loans and general insurance
  • one in three women experiences physical violence and one in five sexual violence in their lifetime
  • women are two and a half times more likely to live in poverty in their old age than men
  • women make up 44% of the homeless but are the majority of those turned away from emergency housing services
  • the gender pay gap has widened in recent years with women earning 82 cents in the male dollar
  • our international ranking has dropped from 40th to 52nd for female workforce participation
  • women are disproportionately represented in deep and persistent disadvantage
  • over 700,000 working age women depend on welfare income.
The good news:
  • Investing in women and girls has a greater and wider impact – a phenomenon widely recognised as the multiplier or ripple effect.
  • We know that if you help a woman escape welfare reliance and rise out of poverty, the flow-on effects – educational, economic and social - extend far beyond her, benefitting first her family, then the wider community and the national economy.
  • Helping a woman today can improve the financial lives of her family for generations to come.
  • Reports by leading international organisations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and Goldman Sachs, all underline the economic imperatives for bridging the gender gap and the opportunities this brings for increased prosperity.

So however you choose to invest your philanthropic dollar, I’m sure you will want to see it have maximum impact on the whole community – and for my money – that means investing in women and girls.

I hope you all find a special way to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) this Sunday March 8th.  There have been so many wonderful events on offer – all featuring an array of impressive speakers - I would have loved the chance to hear them all.  On Friday I will share breakfast with my youngest daughter at her final IWD celebration as a secondary school student – a very special event.

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