Over the weekend on Singapore’s INSEAD campus, the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard co-organized the Project Inspire 2013 Grand Finals, an event that showcased a wide range of exciting ideas from around the globe with the shared aim of empowering women. From training women to work as beekeepers in Uganda to preparing them to cover compelling stories as professional journalists and launching personal creative businesses, Project Inspire gives a platform for ideas meant to make the world a brighter place for women to live and work.
Now in its third year, the event received some 577 entries from more than 60 countries this year, of which three were chosen to receive a total of $45,000 in awards meant to help make these visions a reality. This year’s winners include grand prize ($25,000) winner Creative Street Micro-entrepreneurs project, pitched by the PROTSAHAN India Foundation, which benefits at-risk girls in India; the winner of the Global Reach Award ($10,000), Global Press Institute, which helps disadvantaged women in Bangladesh, Morocco, Tunisia and Papua New Guinea; and the winner of the Inspiration Award ($10,000), Empowering Disabled Young Women through Beekeeping, pitched by Ka Tutandike Uganda, an NGO that focuses on empowering Ugandans. The People’s Choice Award went to the ILaw ngTahanan project from the Philippines, which received the highest number of online votes.
The Diplomat spoke with some of the event’s organizers and winners about the exciting work they are doing, specifically as it relates to the Asia-Pacific region, and the potential impact it could have on women’s lives.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
The Diplomat: What are the biggest issues facing women across Asia today?
Georgette Tan, group head, Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa, MasterCard and co-creator of Project Inspire:
Despite the fact that women across many parts of Asia now enjoy a higher standard of living, increased education opportunities and greater participation in the labor force, women still face a number of issues in the region. Some of these issues include gender discrimination/ inequality in the work place, violence, lack of access to capital and land rights, and struggle for employment and financial independence.
Trina Liang-Lin, president, Singapore Committee for UN Women and co-creator of Project Inspire:
Violence against women in its many forms continues to be pervasive – this is true even in developed countries. Though we have seen strides made in the education and employment fields in the past decade, more needs to be done particularly in developing countries to equalize pay structures and respect a woman's myriad role in society.
Specifically in South Asia, the recent gang-rape in Mumbai – and India’s rape problem in general – and the issue of acid attacks do not suggest that treatment of women in the region is improving. Do you see it differently? Is there a positive trend, even as these horrific problems are still ongoing?
Georgette Tan, group head, Communications, Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa, MasterCard and co-creator of Project Inspire:
According to the latest MasterCard Index of Women’s Advancement, India ranks last among 14 Asia-Pacific markets, indicating that much more can be done to achieve gender parity. Women’s representation in leadership roles in business and government is lagging in India with only 15 women business/government leaders for every 100 male business/government leaders. However, in terms of education, India ranks well with nearly 80 women for every 100 men in secondary and tertiary education.
While the numbers demonstrate that opportunities exist for women in education, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of legislation and protecting women, and to ensure women receive more access to job opportunities and leadership positions in business and government after they graduate. It is also important for women to understand and know that they can and should help each other out and protect one and other.