Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
The Ethisphere Institute, an international think-tank focused on the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability has published their 6th annual list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.
According to Ethisphere, each 2012 honoree was chosen for promoting ethical business standards and practices by exceeding legal minimums for compliance, introducing innovative ideas that benefit the public and forcing their competitors to follow suit.
Ethisphere will celebrate the winning companies at a dinner in New York keynoted by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.
You can find the full list on Ethisphere’s web site and check out more coverage on Forbes.
By Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft
There are 1.2 billion young people on our planet today – more than ever before and the numbers continue to grow with projections of 1.5 billion young people by 2035. Many of them are doing amazing things. They are innovating, they are inspiring and they are driving real impact.
Our goal is simple. Create a global movement for young people that enable them to:
These events and the Innovate4Good @Microsoft community are just a start.
We must actively enable young people to overcome unique issues that no other generation has faced. The private, public and nonprofits sectors must come together to help youth cross the emerging opportunity divide between those who have the skills, education and opportunities to succeed and those who don’t.
At Microsoft, we are creating a new set of programs, partnerships and resources, all focused on helping youth realize their opportunity in the world, whether they aspire to reach higher levels of education, start or grow their career, become an entrepreneur or generate social good.
Please join us. It’s in everyone’s best interest.
The International Youth Foundation report: Opportunity for Action highlights some of the challenges facing youth around the world.
Follow the Innovate4Good events around the world with @msftcitizenship and #innovateforgood
Find the latest news, photos, comments at the Microsoft Citizenship Facebook page.
You can follow our Innovate4Good event online:
At a time when we have more young people – 1.2 billion – than at any time in the planet’s history, there’s an urgent need to provide them with the education, skills and employment opportunities they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global economy.
The report, which was commissioned by Microsoft, underlines the emergence of an opportunity divide among young people around the world. A problem Brad Smith wrote about back in January:
“Young people require new skills, better education and stronger connections to real world life and job opportunities. A McKinsey study recently estimated that, by the end of this decade, two-thirds of the jobs that will be created don't even exist today. We have to do a better job of preparing our young people for this future. We have to help close this opportunity divide. Tackling an issue of this importance will require a collective effort by governments, businesses and the non-profit community. Through our work around the world, we’ve come to the conclusion that closing this opportunity divide has become one of the most important actions we can all take – together – to secure the future of our youth and, as a result, the future of our global economy and society.”
“Young people require new skills, better education and stronger connections to real world life and job opportunities. A McKinsey study recently estimated that, by the end of this decade, two-thirds of the jobs that will be created don't even exist today. We have to do a better job of preparing our young people for this future. We have to help close this opportunity divide.
Tackling an issue of this importance will require a collective effort by governments, businesses and the non-profit community. Through our work around the world, we’ve come to the conclusion that closing this opportunity divide has become one of the most important actions we can all take – together – to secure the future of our youth and, as a result, the future of our global economy and society.”
So what are the current conditions for youth around the world?
The global unemployment rate for young people is currently 12.7 percent - more than double global average for unemployment as a whole. While some youth are prospering, many others who lack access to education, skills and opportunities, face growing challenges. As the global youth population grows over time, the gap risks widening even further between those with opportunity and those without.
The Opportunity for Action report reveals that nearly 75 million young people around the world are unemployed, and currently only 44 percent of youth worldwide pursue education as far as the equivalent of the high school level in the United States. This is becoming a bigger issue as more jobs now require higher levels of skill and education. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that by 2018, 62% of the workforce will require some college education, yet today 16% of American youth ages 18-24 fail even to complete high school.
In Latin America youth have greater access to education than ever before, but there are still low education completion rates across the region. Meanwhile in the Middle East and Africa there are growing number of youth with a university education, but they’re finding there are no jobs to match their advanced skills.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, where 25% of children are not even enrolled in primary school, young people are grossly under-employed in low-skill, low-quality jobs and 72% earn less than $2 USD per day simply to survive.
Addressing the Opportunity Divide
The factors behind this opportunity divide differ from country-to-country, but the overall global trend is the same everywhere. Unemployment for young people is rising and we need the public, private and nonprofit sectors to work together to provide youth with access to the education, skills, and job opportunities they need.
For the past decade, Microsoft has invested in programs and partnerships to help millions of young people around the world create a better future for themselves through education, skills training and job placement. However, there’s a lot more work to be done.
We are working with governments, nonprofits, industry colleagues, educators and youth themselves to close the opportunity divide. A first step is shining a light on the problem through this report and learning directly from young people, which we’ll do through events taking place around the globe. We plan to incorporate the insights gained from these discussions into our work and use it to help us develop new plans and programs to improve youth access to education, skills training, and communities where they can bridge the opportunity divide and create a better tomorrow for themselves and our world.
Hear directly from the International Youth Foundation
To watch a short interview with Bill Reese, president and CEO of the International Youth Foundation, read today’s post on Microsoft on the Issues. In the interview, Bill discusses the role education plays in helping to improve the lives of youth all around the world as well as the Opportunity for Action report, which focuses on barriers to opportunity for global youth.
Editor’s Note: Earlier this week Geena Davis visited our campus in Redmond Washington to meet with Microsoft employees and speak about the lack of gender equality. It was a fascinating visit. This story originally appeared on our Inside Track employee publication.
By Jennifer Warnick, reporter for Microsoft Inside Track
Oscar-winning actor, activist, and archer (yes, archer) Geena Davis spoke to employees on the Redmond campus Monday about a lack of gender equality. Davis said that fixing gender imbalances in the media could help change gender disparity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics industries as well.
Geena Davis, the first woman president of the United States—on television, that is—spoke to Microsoft employees on Monday about the imbalance of gender in the media and empowering girls and young women.
Davis shared data about the representation of women in movies and television and shared her personal story as well as the reasoning for going after strong female acting roles.
"To be perfectly frank, I only have the luxury of choosing roles that I think women may like because I haven't run out of money yet. At some point, if you read that I've signed on to play Sean Connery's kidnapped wife in some movie, you will know I'm broke," Davis said, getting big laughs from the audience.
She added, deadpan: "I think that's about the right Hollywood age difference, too."
Andrea Taylor, director of community affairs, talks with Geena Davis following actor and activist’s speech on gender equality at Microsoft on Monday.
But it wasn't until she started watching children's entertainment with her young daughter that she decided to do something about it. In 2004, she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which commissioned the largest research project ever done on gender in film and television.
The results of that first study (which was eventually titled "Where the Girls Aren't") and studies since, she said, are astounding.
Women comprise just over 50 percent of the population in the United States, yet in family films, male characters outnumber female characters three to one (a ration that's been the same since 1946). In crowd scenes, only 17 percent of the characters are female. From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or in politics. The most common occupation of a female character in a G-rated program?
"Royalty," Davis said. "Which is a great gig, if you can get it."
Other facts: The percentage of female movie narrators is 16. Only 7 percent of directors, 13 percent of writers, and 20 percent of producers are women. This translates to one woman for every 4.8 men working behind-the-scenes in movies.
"What message are we sending to boys and girls at a very vulnerable age? We're saying that women don't take up even half the space in the world," Davis said.
Meanwhile, the United States ranks 90th in the world in terms of female representation in government. New York Times Magazine figured out that if the United States continues to add women to Congress at the rate it has, the country will achieve gender parity in 500 years.
"I say that's too slow. Like Bill and Melinda Gates, I like to think of myself as an impatient optimist," Davis said. "I think it's time for us to see a dramatic change in gender balance. Now. Not 500 years from now. Instead of sneaking up on it like we have been."
"To me, I'm exactly the same dorky kid from a small town that I always was. I was just talking about this to my driver in the motorcade on the way over," Davis deadpanned, drawing laughs from the audience.
She called on employees in the room, many of whom mentioned during the comment and question portion of the event that they have daughters, to be "agents of change."
Davis doesn't prevent her children from watching disparate media but rather has a "running dialogue" with them while they watch it, making sure her children notice the misrepresentations.
The same goes for exposing girls to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). There are few girls or women with STEM careers represented in the media, which needs to change. It took until 2005 for television to depict the first female Commander in Chief.
"When I did that show about being president, it was just on for one season, but when it finished, there was a study done that showed people familiar with the show were 68 percent more likely to vote for a female president. They must have been like, 'Oh, that's not as weird as I thought it would be. She seems to be doing fine. She looks good behind a desk.' One of our prime goals is to not only increase the percentage of female characters, but improve what they are doing."
Davis was invited to Microsoft by Andrea Taylor, Microsoft's director of community affairs. Taylor first met Davis last fall at a cocktail hour for a United Nations symposium on women. Taylor found Davis to be very personable and grounded, and the two also had a few other common threads—they're both tall, Massachusetts-born Boston University graduates.
"And, more importantly, we're both committed to empowering women," Taylor said.
Taylor and Davis emailed about a week after the UN symposium, and Davis agreed to travel to Washington, first to visit Microsoft for a Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC) event and then to speak at a community event—both focused on gender equality.
There's an important intersection between the work of Microsoft and that of Davis's institute, Taylor said. She told Davis about some of Microsoft's programs that focus on women and other underrepresented populations, including Digigirlz and Elevate America in addition to "robust" programs to help educate, retrain, empower, and engage women.
"The intersection is around community affairs and getting women involved in careers in technology, and imagery in the popular media can affect or discourage young women," Taylor said. "It all involves women thinking about these kinds of opportunities and pursuing them and the media's subtle and not-so-subtle effect on the choices they make and the kind of future women envision for themselves."
In 2005, a year after she started her research institute on gender equality in the media, Geena Davis became the first woman to play the US president on television in the show "Commander in Chief."
"In medicine, the cure often comes from the same source as the illness. As powerful as media images are, they can have an incredibly positive effect equal to the negative," Davis said. "We have an opportunity to overcome negative behaviors. If girls can see it, they can be it. But unfortunately, girls are not seeing it, and gender inequalities are deeply entrenched."
After speaking to members of MSPAC, Davis chatted with Taylor and Akhtar Badshah, senior director of community affairs, before moving on to a "girl power" event in Seattle.
What would she say, in parting, to Microsoft employees?
"You at Microsoft are developing technology that has a tremendous impact around the world, so think about how what you're doing and working on can impact equality," Davis said. "Is there something you can look at in what you're working on that could improve equality? We need to learn to look at everything with a gender lens—to be consciously sure we're not leaving women out."
By Lynne Stockstad, General Manager, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft
“Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world,” Larry Summers wrote as chief economist of the World Bank. As someone who has worked for years in the traditionally male-dominated IT industry, I wholeheartedly agree in the importance of providing women and girls with the education and opportunity to achieve their potential.
Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day, we celebrate the progress made towards achieving gender equality, but also reflect on the many changes still needed. Great strides have been made in the past century towards female equality, but inequality persists in many areas like access to education and health, while many economic sectors and career paths remain dominated by men.
At the United Nations, UN Women is leading the commemoration of International Women’s Day. At Microsoft, we work with many UN organizations at the frontline of supporting women’s rights and gender equality. By developing innovative programs and campaigns, often with partners from civil society and the private sector, these organizations are having a real impact on providing women and girls with opportunities and a voice.
On International Women’s Day I wanted to share some of the outstanding work the United Nations has underway to address gender inequality.
UN Women is leading United Nations efforts to ensure equal participation for women in all aspects of life, with a special focus in 2012 on their economic empowerment and political participation.
The World Economic Forum’s research on 134 countries has found that countries with greater gender equality have economies that are more competitive and grow faster. To promote gender equality in the private sector, UN Women, together with the UN Global Compact, has developed the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a set of actions companies can take to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Women hold only 19.5 percent of seats in parliaments, still far below 30 percent recognized as the critical mass needed to advance a gender equality agenda. UN Women is working with partners to support electoral law reform around the world to facilitate the inclusion of women as candidates and voters and provide training for women candidates.
UNESCO, the lead UN organization for education, has led a variety of female empowerment-focused programs to ensure future generations of women and girls have the skills and education needed to compete for jobs and improve their livelihoods.
A UNESCO-supported eco-friendly textile dyeing factory in Bamako, Mali is providing employment to 200 women, trained to use new equipment and empowered to manage the site themselves. The new facility has not only reduced health hazards for women working in the factory, but they’re also exporting their products throughout the surrounding sub-region.
Pictured is Mariko Awa Bamba, a fabric dyer in the Dianéguéla district, in Bamako, Mali. Copyright: © Lâm Duc Hiên
To encourage women in science, UNESCO partnered with L’Oreal 14 years ago to establish the Women in Science Programme, which seeks to recognize women researchers through awards and fellowships who have contributed to overcoming the global challenges of tomorrow.
Using the power of community radio, UNESCO is giving women in Nepal a voice by supporting the woman-operated and -managed Radio Nari Aawaj. The station broadcasts daily discussions on contemporary matters like health, employment, women’s rights and environmental issues. As one regular listener to Radio Nari Aawaj said, “for the first time, we have the possibility to voice our opinions and concerns and to be heard. We can speak for ourselves and not just through someone else.”
Nepal – Radio Aawaj signboard Copyright: ©UNESCO/Terhi Ylikosk
Meanwhile, the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger, World Food Programme (WFP) is spearheading efforts to empower women as a critical means of improving food security and fighting hunger globally. Far too often, women have unequal access to resources, education and income, and participate less in decision-making.
WFP’s Women4Women campaign aims to fight hunger and malnutrition amongst women by providing nutritious meals to school girls and pregnant or new mothers.
One of the girls receiving free school meals through WFP is 12 year old Molly, pictured below.
Copyright: © WFP Rein Skullerud
‘Molly’s World’ is a collection of videos showing scenes from her daily life growing up in the slums of Nairobi, showing how similar girls like Molly are to other teen girls all around the world. Take Molly’s quiz and provide a nutritious meal to a young boy or girl in school.
Refugee and displaced women face a multitude of challenges and barriers to work, including legal restrictions, physical and psychological trauma, and lack of financial resources. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) initiates programs to enhance the economic independence and rights of refugee and displaced women and girls.
As part of its ‘Women Leading for Livelihoods’ campaign, UNHCR staged a series of Regional Dialogues with more than 1,000 forcibly displaced women and girls living in countries as diverse as India, Colombia, Jordan, Uganda, Zambia, Thailand and Finland, with the aim of giving female refugees a voice.
The annual Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI), funded by the German Government and UNHCR, support tertiary education for refugees, including many women and girls. In 2011, DAFI enabled 1,680 students to pursue higher education in 40 countries. DAFI has helped women like Lemma, an Afghan refugee living with her family in Russia since age 2. Now 21, she works as a nurse in the outpatient clinic of Magee WomanCare International, UNHCR's partner organization that provides medical services to refugees and asylum-seekers.
At Microsoft, in addition to the work we support through partnerships around the world, we also have programs aimed at reducing education gaps and gender inequality in otherwise male dominated fields. The DigiGirlz Technology Program, for example, provides girls with the opportunity to improve their technology skills through courses such as Visual Basic and HTML programming. Since its inception in 2000, the program has grown each year and now reaches more than 3,700 students worldwide.
These programs are just a few examples of the scope and diversity of action being taken to address gender inequality, and I find it encouraging that so much progress is being made across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Through continued effort and committed partnerships, there is hope that we will help future generations of women face even fewer barriers to making a real impact.
Find out more about International Women’s Day here.
Our mission is to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their
Explore the positive impact of local programs promoted and supported by Microsoft
around the world.
News, perspectives and analysis on legal and policy issues.
© 2013 Microsoft
Privacy Statement |
Connect With Us