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From Canada to Indonesia: Women’s role in the global economy

Indonesian women often run a small business to support their family. - Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons
Indonesian women often run a small business to support their family. - Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

By Bronwyn Worrick,  Sebastian Calderon-Seaforth, Alyssa Mack

Women are often overlooked when it comes to their invaluable contributions to the global economy. From community initiatives to agricultural influence, political involvement, and entrepreneurial endeavors, there are countless examples of ways that women improve our world’s economic synergy. In celebration of International Women’s Day, it is important to take time to appreciate women’s influence on the global economy – from here in Canada and to the other side of the world in Indonesia.

In Canada, more and more women have been influencing local economies through entrepreneurial endeavors. Women have been starting businesses at a faster rate than men in Canada for the last 20 years, and it’s not just because it’s trendy. Entrepreneurship allows women to take the driver’s seat in their professional lives, while simultaneously supporting their families, friends, and the greater community. This number is only continuing to grow and the positive influence that these women-owned and operated businesses have on the local economy is unquestionable. In Canada, Indigenous women are two times more likely to start their own businesses than non-Indigenous women. Entrepreneurship is a wonderful avenue for economic self-reliance and facilitates a community network of support. In Canada, more and more women are beginning to enter the agriculture industry. This is just another way that women are engaging in the roots of our economy and becoming more integrated into industries that are underrepresented by women. These entrepreneurs also tend to support other women who are considering opening their own businesses or moving into industries traditionally dominated by men. This allows for a networked support system that improves female agency and access to opportunities that they may not have had otherwise.

Moving from Canada to the other side of the world, it’s wonderful to take a look at the integral role that women play in the Indonesian economy. Indonesian women have been found to reinvest up to 90% of their income into their children and families, causing a domino effect that improves health, education, and overall well-being of local communities. This phenomenon is not new. When women oversee family finances, the money tends to be used in more effective and sustainable ways. In addition, women hold 18% of the seats in Indonesia’s national parliament. While there are still improvements to be made in parliamentary representation, women’s involvement provides an avenue to propel important agendas in the country. Trends have shown that women tend to show more empathy toward children and their upbringing, which is important to the quality of life and prospects of the future workforce. Women in the Indonesian parliament positively influence issues like access to childcare and leave policies, which ultimately leads to a nation that is more equitable, sustainable, and resilient.

This article only touches the surface in terms of the ways in which women are involved in the global economy. On International Women’s Day, it is important that we all take a moment to think about the women in our lives that support and improve the conditions of our world. Take some time out of your day to go out and support those women in any way you can – from buying gifts from local female artisans, to telling the women selling vegetables at the farmer’s market how much you love the carrots that they have grown and hand-picked this year, to sharing some of the things you learned in this article with your neighbour. While this article took a positive lens on the role of women in the global economy, it is also important to remember that there is still a lot more to be done in regard to female equality. Educating yourself and others, supporting your local female economy, and recognizing how women are connected around the world are all fantastic ways to engage in the incredible network that is the global female economy.

Bronwyn Worrick, Sebastian Calderon-Seaforth and Alyssa Mack are MBA candidates at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Each month we’ll hear from the class and their perspective on global and emerging markets.

“When you support women everyone rises together”

In honour of International Women’s Day and the 2019 theme of #BalanceforBetter our entire edition has been crafted by women, about women and for women in Atlantic Canada.

From gender parity in politics, egg freezing, self-care and body love and the pervasive pay gap transgender women grapple with, this edition aims at igniting the bra-burner within you.

In the meantime, we’re also making a commitment to diversity and gender equality in this publication. Whether it’s through the writers we hire, the people we interview or artists we collaborate with, diversity and equality remains an integral part of the stories we tell and who gets to tell them.

As Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained, “The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

If you have a suggestion as to how we can #BalanceforBetter, we’d love to hear from you. Visit us on Instagram @NowAtlantic or send us an email at

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