UN Women National Committee Canada (UNWNCC) President Almas Jiwani

Internationally renowned humanitarian, The Audacious Catalyst and Epitome for Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment

The fear of failure is a significant emotional stumbling block for many people causing them to not pursue their dreams, procrastinate, or give up at the first setback. What do you think about failing?

We speak of failure and success as binaries. The idea that one either fails or succeeds comes from a limited mentality and has served no good purpose.We should think of failure as milestones and eventually, we will appreciate them for what they are. All those who have achieved great success have overcome significant challenges in their lives. I am convinced that failures as milestones are potent motivators, allowing us an opportunity to be reflective. When you fail, you are able to tweak your strategy on your way towards success. Failures are not mistakes. I have failed a few times and in many endeavours – I have never let failure hold me back from trying again, and I have never let it cloud my own judgment about my abilities.

What are the largest stumbling blocks to achieving gender equality in business?

Gender discrimination is still prevalent in the business world and serves as a hurdle towards economic empowerment for women. One of the main obstacles, in my opinion, is that women disproportionately lack access to the tools they need for success, notably finances, education, and a sense of self-confidence. Women are denied loans and financial support in many countries around the world for their entrepreneurial endeavours; often loans can only be taken out by husbands or a male relative, which not only discourages entering the business or start-up field, it promotes patriarchal values.

Women are also still denied the equal opportunity to a quality education from an early age. This does not allow them to develop skills they need for business success and often perpetuates dated notions of female domesticity.

Finally, there is a large confidence gap between men and women in business, and this gap exists in all countries, even developed ones such as Canada. If women are discouraged from entering certain fields, or if they lack education, or if they are facing constant assaults to their dignity and rights, their confidence levels plummet and they become discouraged.

There is a real danger that some societies will socially, politically, and economically regress into the dark ages.

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