Faculty Forum - Featured Post Posted on Friday, March 18, 2016

The Moral and Economic Case for Women’s Leadership

Shyama Venkateswar Distinguished Lecturer, Hunter College and Director, Public Policy Program, Roosevelt House

The 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is currently taking place at the United Nations with a focus on “women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.” For two weeks every year in March, the Commission comes together to assess the work of the United Nations in relation to women and girls worldwide and to make recommendations to step up efforts to address barriers and challenges. Concurrently, civil society groups are given the opportunity to participate in the NGO CSW Forum; activists from around the world convene panels in “parallel events” to network, share good practices, identify critical issues at grassroots levels, and lobby governments to implement resolutions and treaties.

The CSW meetings every year are effective forums to gather recommendations on how to build a critical mass of women in key and strategic leadership positions. Activists turn their attention to the low numbers of women in leadership roles across the world — in boardrooms in corporations, or at the helm of multilateral organizations like the United Nations, the IMF or World Bank. They also look closely at the paucity of women in the field negotiating peace settlements and overseeing post-conflict reconstruction and governance and its implication for lasting peace.

Whether you approach the question of gender parity in terms of rights or equity, or argue that it simply makes economic sense, researchers have found gender to be an effective analytic tool to understand the benefits of having more women in leadership positions and also in creating economic value. Evidence also shows that having more women leaders at various levels of society often translates to:

Despite these important benefits, great challenges remain in achieving gender parity in most parts of the world in terms of education, employment, meaningful representation in legislatures, corporations and other places, not to mention eliminating the violence — actual and the threat — many women endure in their lives globally. Join the discussions and participate at the open sessions at this year’s CSW meetings which end on March 24th, 2016.



Shyama Venkateswar is Director of the Public Policy Program at Roosevelt House and Distinguished Lecturer at Hunter College. In this capacity, she leads the Public Policy Program’s undergraduate curriculum, teaches the senior Capstone Seminar, co-manages faculty initiatives, works closely with city & state agencies for student internships, manages adjuncts, and directs a scholars program funded by the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women. She is a regular columnist for Roosevelt House’s website on a variety of national and global policy issues on conflict resolution, food security, women’s leadership, criminal justice reform, among others. She has almost twenty years of experience in research, policy and advocacy focusing on social justice issues, both in the U.S. and globally. Before coming to Hunter College, she worked at the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW), where she served as Director of Research & Programs, and helped provide the vision and strategic direction for the Council’s policy agenda on economic security for low-income women, diversity in higher education and the corporate arena, women’s leadership, and ending global violence against women. She is co-author of two NCRW reports, Caring for Our Nation’s Future; and The Challenge and the Charge: Strategies for Retaining and Advancing Women of Color in addition to numerous commentary and opinion pieces on poverty, job creation, peace-building, and immigrant rights published in The Miami Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Asia Times, The Indian Express, and the Chicago Sun-Times. She has given Congressional briefings, and presented her research findings to academic, policy, advocacy and corporate audiences. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and is a graduate of Smith College.