The first women’s rights convention in the U.S. took place in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. Convened by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and others active in the anti-slavery movement, it resulted in a Declaration of Sentiments modeled on the Declaration of Independence, which demanded a variety of rights for women, including suffrage.
Unfortunately, 169 years later, women around the world continue to be deprived of economic opportunities. In some places, women are legally barred from working the same night hours as men. In many others, they are unable to get the financing they need to start—or grow—their businesses. And although education has been en- shrined as a universal human right, young women continue to fight for their right to be educated so that they can become productive members of the economy.
Leaving women out of the economy and politics is not just unfair and unjust, it’s also not smart economics. I am thrilled that this month’s speaker will be Donna Haghighat, CEO of The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, an organization that fuels progress toward gender equity by fund- ing the most promising solutions, collaborating with results-oriented partners, and by elevating the collective power of local women to take charge, and to lead with purpose.
Investing in girls is smart. It is central to boosting development, breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, and allowing girls, and then women—to lead better, fairer, and more productive lives. Dare I say, investing in girls and women makes cents?