The value of gender equality is priceless and it’s time that the gap be closed on a global scale. It starts with you. We can all make a difference by investing time, money and resources in providing more opportunities for women across the globe.

What continuously keeps women from thriving is oppressive cultural traditions, along with limited access to pertinent resources like education, job training and financial services. In some countries, it is easy for women to get stuck in the same stagnant unpaid domestic labor job from a very young age — and some are not even compensated.

Programs that provide girls and women in less privileged areas with opportunities like business training, life skills and a financial education act as tools to help move our world forward. Don’t believe me? Statistics show us that investing in opportunities for women to advance is in all of our best interests…

Women make an impact, especially in companies.

Research shows that companies with a female presence see better performance. In February 2016, the Peterson Institute surveyed approximately 22,000 firms from 91 different countries and concluded that a female executive presence will increase performance when measured by both gross and net margins.

Women stabilize society.

Give women an equal voice in the community and watch society grow into something more stable and peaceful. Overwhelming evidence proves that women’s empowerment and gender equality is tied to peace and stability in society. Adding women’s voices into the mix provides a better-rounded outlook on any issue, which has a positive effect on society as a whole.

Women add to the global economy.

It’s believed that women could potentially add approximately $17 trillion to our global economy if they were given the same access to the jobs and income men have.

What we can start to do is invest in programs that support global change for women. With the help of these programs and those who support them, more women will obtain the resources needed to advance.

For example, in Guatemala, two sisters began running a café for locals in a remote community. It offers fresh village-grown foods options — a luxury that wasn’t previously available. The majority of the population suffers from malnutrition and poverty, so their chances of starting their own business are slim. With the help of the Mercy Corps and Starbucks Foundation, the sisters were able to make their dreams a reality while greatly improving their community in the process.

The more investments that entities designed to help women receive, the more women all over the world will benefit. The future holds a lot of promise for women, and we can empower one another to grow and follow our dreams. Our future starts with these visions and dreams — a future of leadership, equality and change on the horizon.

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