There couldn’t have been a better time for Facebook to bring its global program #SheMeansBusiness to the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. The initiative focuses on major triumphs, experiences and insights on being a woman entrepreneur. Facebook has even given itself a target wherein #SheMeansBusiness looks to create 10,000 job opportunities for women in MENA by 2018. This is a very strong step in a very good direction.
My first reaction to the news was ‘how can I help’, and not surprisingly, so was the reaction of all my colleagues. #SheMeansBusiness is timed perfectly to celebrate the role of the women entrepreneur and explore the key challenges that female entrepreneurs face. Our region has begun creating the ‘Silicon Arabia’ women – innovators who are making us proud on a global stage. With some help, we can see many more of these. One can only imagine the impact that this can have on the economy itself, leading to growth for all.
Initiatives such as #SheMeansBusiness that offer education, inspiration and information to help women overcome challenges and move forward with their ventures is the need of the hour. Being a women-run company ourselves, we understand the importance of a helping hand, and the difference it can make.
Challenges can come from any quarter. There are many who are skeptical about initiatives directed at women at work. The rationales are aplenty too – there is equality for women at work today; all that these initiatives really do is create rift or inequalities or make a woman staffer standout, which is not necessary helpful and similar thoughts. There are many successful women in the industry who share the opinion. I suppose this is part of the parcel, and there is merit in this line of thinking as well. Having said that, a male-dominated society remains the truth of life and of work around the world, including this region. That is a truth that should change.
For me, the most important things about #SheMeansBusiness is that it is collaborative and it educates in digital. The very idea of bringing together many women entrepreneurs under one umbrella, while paving way for them to train with digital experts at Facebook and Instagram, open doors for them to network with each other and help them become important components in making economies better, will help create more successful women entrepreneurs.
The region needs this for the regions’ own good. Very logically, it would seem that instead of getting caught up in the debate of gender disparity, there is need to educate and empower women to become more assertive and aspire for larger roles. There isn’t any need to give women special privileges. But educating a woman of what she is capable of goes a long way. Hopefully more women entrepreneurs will seek opportunities like #SheMeansBusiness and make the most from it.
Like they say – you can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve.