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“Invest In Women”: Women Entrepreneurship Day 2019

If I put my NGO hat on, it has been proven time and time again that if you invest in a woman or a girl in the global south she will not only use the opportunity for growth for herself but will also elevate the rest of the village.”

I spoke at Women Entrepreneurship Day 2019 conducted by Female Founders of the Future at Klub in Copenhagen back in November.

“Invest In Women”: Summary Of My Speech

I didn’t memorize my full speech as I wrote it, you really never do, but here it is:

Hi there! My name is Henriette Weber. I am an entrepreneur. A seeker. A climate activist. A feminist. A mother of a teenage girl. A leader, and currently the head of brand and engagement at the Climate NGO CARE, as well as being Denmarks first + Social Good Connector under the UN foundation.

I was invited here to talk to you about “Investing in Gender Equality”. This is something I feel very strongly about probably because it’s something I have been working on as an entrepreneur. First, trying to get a maternity fund for entrepreneurs implemented in Denmark, and later as the CEO and founder of Geek Girl Denmark and Geek Girl Magazine.

I almost won an Ivækst Award in the female category on Geek Girl Magazine. This is for teaching tech to women and doing stuff differently. As a “Female Found Media Icon”, I got fed up with being a role media because I really am not. I am chaotic, imperfect, and I didn’t feel I could live up to their expectations.

After Geek Girl Magazine, I decided to change lanes and head towards climate action. Something that has always been close to my heart ever since I was a young teen being told by my teacher that the ozone layer was going to kill the planet. I did a lot of research on sustainability and climate action at the biggest Nordic sustainable think tank where I was employed as a brand director. I found my bridge between sustainability and gender equality.

Did you know that the Project Drawdown by Paul Hawken is the leading organization that finds solutions for climate change?

Invest in Women and Girls

“If I put my NGO hat on, it has been proven time and time again that if you invest in a woman or a girl in the global south she will not only use the opportunity for growth for herself but will also elevate the rest of the village.”

The return on investment in investing in women and girls is so much higher than if you invest traditionally.

The same goes for teams with a female co-founder in startups. You’d notice that their startups perform exponentially.

As the old saying goes, we can’t keep doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. Right now, not one single country in the world is on track to meet SDG 5: Gender equality. Even though gender equality has been agreed upon as a human right.

Denmark is leading on a number of factors under SDG 5, but we can ALL do something to save the world, and yes. I do mean save the world. When you help a girl, you help a village. When you help a woman, you are constructively doing climate action. 

If you, whether as a Dane or as an entrepreneur, want to do social good then you can start by helping another woman. Look at the first woman you see and SMILE at her =) You can do something life-altering for this woman. You can believe in her strength which would help her connect her to other people. Help her see her own “badassness”. Help her see her “Mad Skills”. Give her chances she normally wouldn’t be getting. 

Make A Choice. Make A Difference.

We need to make different choices. The world calls for our responsibility, on a personal level, and to all of us as humans. As Jonathan Safran Foer wrote in his latest book, “We are all the weather“. A personal climate plan or a family climate plan is what we need. A personal gender equality plan is just as important as well. We need to find out HOW we will act around climate, gender, and every other of the SDGs. We should also ask how are we going to make ourselves accountable?

How are we going to make the global goals our personal goals? By making different choices. It seems super obvious but for every different choice we make for sustainability, we are tipping the boat towards a healthier planet.

For a long time, first in tech, women, and then in sustainability, I’ve heard people saying “Enough talking, it’s time for action!”. And we’re fucking still talking about how much time for action there is. But we are doing the safe things. Men in suits are becoming “chief innovation officers” all around the world and I can’t stand it. Where are the wildcards, the misfits, the women, the ones needed to make a powerful change?

Investing In Women = Implementing Social Good

If you decide to make a woman a partner of your VC firm, you are doing social good. If you’re making a woman the co-founder of your startup. Social good. You are showing the world that you are innovative and that you are choosing differently, even though it doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s EXACTLY these choices we need. As is eating less meat. Driving electric cars. And you know what, probably your whole team spirit will be elevated because of something new happening.

Better yet, see if you can make half the partners or founders of your company female. Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Those women will be role models for other women who want to work in a startup. Those who want to vet and invest in startups as VC’s. Those women will be visible beacons in a field where women are normally invisible. They don’t exist. This is especially if you ask the business conference organizers who are (still) creating all-male panels.

Look at us, as a group. Take me as an example. When I started in the tech industry back in 2001, I was one of 3 women out of a team of 100, men obviously being the latter. I was a developer and the other 2 women, one was a secretary and the other was an HR.

Change Starts With You

Now we’re at a sold-out event celebrating female founders. At my first web conference (reboot 2005) we weren’t that many women either. But it made us talk, network, and think that more women should be at these tech conferences. Some of us decided to do something about it.

We can all make a difference. Be social good activists. We can all work to change this fucked up world and we have to. 

What I came here to say is not just “invest in gender equality”. It’s more to “invest in different choices”. Invest in your own actions making these badass women visible.

Thank you.

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