Sometimes it’s just time. I am more deeply convinced now in 2018, than ever before, that the long-term path to a more sane, peaceful world is equality for women in society. The research is conclusive. Investing in girls and women transforms economies, and healthy, growing economies are more peaceful. But I am not a politician, I am not a Sociologist, I am a tech executive and so I need to practice what I know in order to do my part.
Women, and men, need to invest in women. Invest in education, opportunity, and advice. Put the time, focus and effort in to help women build businesses and careers that give them independence and equality so they can themselves invest in their society. And no more so than in the places where peace and hope and dignity are a daily challenge. Even in Israel, second only to Silicon Valley in startup funding, the statistics for women entrepreneurs are crushingly low.
I held a Salon at our home in the heart of Silicon Valley last Summer on Women Led Startups in Israel and Palestine (I choose different topics of interest to my network of SV women 3-4 times a year). The evening was a panel of four women in our garden: two entrepreneurs from Israel, one from Gaza and a Mercy Corps board member who has been focused on Palestine – followed by a discussion and Q&A. It was dramatic, inspiring and very thought provoking. The challenges of building a business as a woman in Silicon Valley have nothing on doing it in the Near East!
WE2 – Women for Economic Equality – was born from that evening. In a moment of passion I asked for volunteers to come with me to mentor women in Palestine and Israel and as a result we now have a delegation of Silicon Valley executive women visiting Tel Aviv, Gaza, Jerusalem and Ramallah in January.
It’s a mentoring delegation. We have a broad set of experiences between us as entrepreneurs, leaders, engineers, lawyers, recruiters and product designers and plenty of experiences, good and bad, to share. Together we believe women achieving economic equality is essential for sustainable peace. We’ll be meeting with female entrepreneurs, executives, VCs, board directors and business leaders, and supported by partners on the ground in each location. We’ll hold panels and small group mentoring sessions, one-on-one coaching and business plan reviews; we’ll share our career learnings and listen to the experiences and resource needs of the women we meet. And we’ll do it in the three, very different, regions of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We are not political, we just want to invest in women.
Hopefully this is the first of many to different parts of the world where women want to build economic independence (so ping me if you want to participate in the future). And if you want to follow us you’ll find updates on this blog, and on my social media.