The Importance Of Women In A Nation’s Development
For the first time, Women’s Forum is being held in Brazil. Over the next two days, the conference will focus on the crucial challenges for the country to continue its historic rise. It is being held at the Grand Hyatt in São Paulo, on the theme “Achieving the country of the future” on June 4-5, 2012. Valeria Café in Brazil shares her perspective of her nation’s growth and key trends that graph the transition of its women from exclusion to empowerment.
Two years ago, on a vacation to Cairo, my daughter, who was 10 years old at that time, asked me why women in Egypt wear scarves on their heads. I explained about different religions and cultures and the importance of women (or the lack of it) in different countries all over the world.
Soon, she asked me about women who were considered “witches” in the middle ages and why they were burned alive. And in another instance, I had to explain why there are so many magazines at the newsstands with naked women on their cover pages. Whenever such a question was posed to me, I had an opportunity to mull about how far we still are from having men and women with the same rights and duties in this world.
Women Are Opinion Leaders
Women need to help other women to grow personally and professionally. We, as mothers and opinion leaders of our families and friends, need to create a network of support in order to value ourselves.
I was glad to see that there are many women in the world with similar opinions and several discussion forums talk about the situation of women worldwide as well as the global economic growth from the women´s perspective. The Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society is one such platform that is dedicated to making a difference to our future.
What We Talk About
I recently joined Andreoli MSL in Brazil and was asked to launch the Women´s Forum here. Since then, I’ve met many interesting women in the country to talk about Brazil’s growth and the global economy. We also share views on emerging markets, the importance of the middle class in our country, social entrepreneurship, climate change and other environmental issues. I now also had the means to search for statistics on my gender. Here are some of the trends that I have observed:
Exclusion To Empowerment
Today, women represent 51% of the population in Brazil. They live longer than men, are the majority of the electorate, have a higher level of education and most of them are already at the labor market, having studied for more than 11 years. They are making the transition from exclusion to empowerment.
Providers Of The Middle Class
Another shift has happened in Brazil in the last five years: the new middle Class (or C class) has considerably increased its spend. There are personal cars, home maintenance, tuition and fees, travel expenses and health and personal care. It is important to note here that 53% of the total population is in the C class.
Women Are Providers
Around 70% of women of this new middle class are the primary providers for their families. This shift in the role of women in the decision making process is directly connected to their financial independence. The increase in the responsibilities of women has also forced a re-definition of the gender roles in the everyday life of lower income families.
Amplify Their Voices
On June 4 and 5, 2012, Brazil will have the most prominent women and men leaders congregating at Women’s Forum Brazil 2012 to discuss these topics and understand how we can further our growth. We will work hard to amplify their voices in Brazil and across the world. I hope discussions such as these will continue to be held, and that they will successfully leverage the women´s point of view up to the most important decisions taken globally.
Valeria has over 20 years experience at companies including Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, HP and J.P. Morgan, developing breakthrough corporate reputation strategies. She holds a degree in communications – advertising/public relations from FAAP with a post-graduate degree in marketing at ESPM and an MBA from the Fundação Dom Cabral. She also spent two years in France where she gained valuable experience in the sustainability area.