Bill and Melinda Gates' annual letter on their 4 big bets (health, farming, mobile banking, education) for the next 15 years is an interesting and inspiring read. http://www.gatesnotes.com/2015-annual-letter
Three of their bets focus on women:
Reducing infant and mother mortality
"We're learning how to help more mothers adopt practices like proper breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact with their babies that prevent newborns from dying in the first month after they're born. (Newborn deaths have gone down at a slower rate than deaths of older children and now account for almost half of all child deaths.)
Improving agriculture by educating women:
"Agricultural extension, the process by which farmers get information — what seeds to plant, how to rotate crops to protect their soil, how to get the best prices at market — is complicated and expensive. Traditionally, it requires highly trained agricultural experts who know the local language and local crops in every region of vast countries. Agricultural extension also tends to be geared toward male farmers (for example, it may focus on the crops that men tend to grow), even though women do at least half of the farm labor in Africa. This is one reason women farmers are kept from being as productive as men, even when they have equal access to seeds and fertilizer. Investing in extension so that it helps more farmers in more places — women as well as men, smallholders as well as more commercial farmers — is the only way to reap the full benefit of innovation. One promising trend is that, as more farmers have access to mobile phones, they will be able to receive all sorts of information, from weather reports to current market prices — via text messages."
Improving education for girls:
"When a young woman gets an education, it has a powerful ripple effect. As an adult, she'll earn more money. If she has children, they will be twice as likely to live past the age of five. Her daughters will be twice as likely to go to school themselves. There's no way to get around the fact that more girls need to be in good schools, and for longer. But online education will open up new opportunities for girls with the means and motivation to take advantage of it."
I was surprised that they barely mentioned lack of Internet/mobile data access as a barrier for getting agriculture information, mobile banking and online education. Are they assuming that within the next 15 years Google and Facebook solve that problem? I hope we will. #ProjectLoon