Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

3 ways young changemakers invest in women and help create inclusive societies

Women in a classroom, Angola: Projects from the Global Shapers Community are challenging existing norms and shaping a more inclusive and equitable future.

Projects from the Global Shapers Community are challenging existing norms and shaping a more inclusive and equitable future. Image: World Economic Forum

Christa Odinga-Svanteson
Impact Communications Manager, World Economic Forum
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Gender Inequality

  • The Global Shapers Community is an example of youth-led initiatives that are advancing gender equality and empowering women worldwide through grassroots movements and online campaigns.
  • The Kuzunga Project in Angola, Project PROSPERA in Türkiye and the Women in Gaming initiative are three projects where context-specific challenges faced by women are tackled through tailored responses.
  • The initiatives show how mentorship, leadership training and creating inclusive spaces empower individual women and help reshape societal norms.

Investing in women is fundamental to driving meaningful change in a world that strives for progress and equality. Empowering women goes beyond individual success – it can transform entire communities and societies. By providing women with equal opportunities, support and resources, we unlock their full potential and pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

Youth-led initiatives have emerged as powerful catalysts for addressing critical issues facing women worldwide. Driven by young people’s passion, innovation and determination, these initiatives are making significant strides in promoting gender equality, women’s rights and empowerment. From grassroots movements to online campaigns, they are transforming the lives of women and girls, challenging existing norms and shaping a more inclusive and equitable future.

The Global Shapers Community exemplifies collective action, demonstrating the transformative impact of youth-led initiatives on critical societal issues. Some initiatives driven by the community have provided spaces for dialogue, mentorship and skill-building, empowering the next generation of women leaders.

Three exemplary projects from the community – Kuzunga Project, Project PROSPERA and Women in Gaming – vividly illustrate the profound impact of investing in women.

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Kuzunga Project: Empowering women entrepreneurs in Angola

In Angola, where formal employment opportunities are scarce, entrepreneurship has become a lifeline for many, particularly women at the forefront of economic struggles. The Kuzunga Project by the Global Shapers Luanda Hub recognizes these challenges and is committed to addressing them through a multifaceted approach encompassing training, financial inclusion and environmental education.

One of the project’s focal points is the empowerment of street vendors, known as zungueiras, who face numerous obstacles in their daily lives, such as financial illiteracy and insecurity at sales locations, that prevent their financial independence. Kuzunga provides access to essential skills, microcredit and necessary resources that can lead to their social and economic inclusion in formal markets.

Financial literacy emerges as a cornerstone of the Kuzunga Project, empowering women to make informed decisions about their money and futures. The end result is financial autonomy, reduced inequalities and smart investing so women can navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. Moreover, access to financial services and products fosters inclusion and economic development, driving the collective prosperity of communities.

The success stories emerging from Kuzunga are a testament to the power of collective action. More than just numbers, they represent lives transformed – over 100 women have not only improved their business practices but also opened bank accounts, embraced fintech solutions and diversified their sources of income. From selling waste for recycling to pursuing entrepreneurship with newfound confidence, they are charting a new course for themselves and those around them.

Over 100 women would additionally be recognized and certified by PREI – a government programme within the National Institute for SMEs and a Global Shapers Luanda Hub partner – to legalize their informal businesses, distribute them to legal marketplaces and provide them daily or weekly microloans.

These achievements signify economic empowerment and represent a shift in societal norms as women assert their agency and challenge traditional gender roles.

Project PROSPERA: Empowering economic independence

In Türkiye, economic dependence can hinder women’s journey towards independence. Project PROSPERA by the Global Shapers Ankara Hub provides comprehensive financial literacy training to equip women with the tools to break free from this cycle. By fostering partnerships with various institutions, PROSPERA creates a supportive environment where women can share experiences and learn from one another without fear of judgment.

The impact of PROSPERA extends beyond mere financial education; it instils confidence and empowers women to take charge of their futures. As one participant expressed, “Participating in PROSPERA made me realize that it is never too late to find a way towards economic independence.” While transformational for individuals, the project also serves as a blueprint where similar challenges manifest, thus amplifying the creation of safe spaces for women to thrive.


Women in Gaming: Breaking stereotypes, fostering inclusivity

The gaming industry is another one with longstanding gender disparities. Women are underrepresented and face societal stereotypes, gender biases and barriers to entry stemming from a predominantly male-dominated culture.

According to the Gender Gap Report 2023, women remain significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce and face inequality in accessing online platforms due to the persistent digital divide. Recognizing these challenges, the Global Shapers Istanbul Hub embarked on a mission to address this imbalance through its Women in Gaming initiative.

At its core, Women in Gaming aims to break stereotypes, champion inclusivity and foster a community that embraces diverse talents within the gaming industry. The project’s focus on one-to-one mentorship is particularly noteworthy, as it offers a personalized approach to support women navigating the complexities of a career in gaming. By pairing mentees with experienced mentors, the initiative provides guidance and cultivates meaningful connections and networks within the industry.

The decision to prioritize mentorship stems from a profound understanding of women’s barriers to entering the gaming industry. Stories shared by hub members, such as the challenges encountered by a business developer transitioning into gaming, underscore the urgency of creating a more inclusive environment. Through mentorship, Women in Gaming seeks to empower women by providing them with the support, resources and networks needed to thrive in the industry.

Central to the success of Women in Gaming is the collaborative effort of the Global Shapers Istanbul Hub and its partners. By leveraging industry partnerships, the initiative amplifies its reach and fosters community and solidarity among female individuals pursuing gaming careers. Together, they are dismantling barriers, challenging norms, and reshaping the gaming industry’s landscape.

These initiatives showcase the transformative power of youth-led movements in driving change. Investing in women unlocks their potential to drive economic growth, foster innovation and build resilient societies.

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