Women and social entrepreneurship: Redefining success

The following excerpt is taken from See Change Magazine’s Celebrating Women in Social Entrepreneurship edition, March 8, 2011

Are women uniquely positioned to take on complex leadership challenges? I believe we are, but it won’t be easy. As a student of women’s studies in the 1980s, I really thought so many of our battles had been won, and there is no contesting the fact that significant progress has been made, but every now and then we are struck by reports from journalists, police officers or the judiciary condemning women who are victims of rape or sexual assault. We are reminded that we can’t take anything for granted, that our positions as leaders must continually be earned, that there are many who would ascribe to us a certain role in society – not necessarily a role we see for ourselves.  We need to name these and confront them. We need to take the power that will allow us to redefine success.

International Women's Day 2011

There are many tools and resources available to support social entrepreneurs but there is still a lot to do. We need to create an enabling and regulatory and legislative framework; we need to increase access to capital (from grants to loans and even equity); and we need to promote a world that understands sustainability as having embedded financial, social and environmental components.

There are many leaders in this space, from the CEO of MaRS, Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, who embraced the notion of social innovation and the value of integrating it into a larger innovation agenda; to the leadership of Tonya Surman and Margie Ziedler, co-founders of the Centre for Social Innovation; and to Anne Jamieson and the visionaries who worked with her to establish the Toronto Enterprise Fund. These women, along with the hundreds of women social entrepreneurs who share their passion for success with us at SiG@MaRS, lead us to feel optimistic about the future.

To quote one more insightful visionary, “We women may labour, but we ultimately deliver.” If passing along that sense of perseverance to the next generation who will write their own rules for success isn’t inspiring, then I don’t know what is. Happy International Women’s Day.

Allyson’s full article can be found on the See Change website.

Read here for some interesting statistics on women entrepreneurs released today by MaRS.

Editor’s Note: The quote cited by Allyson at the end of this post is the closing sentence of the film, Constitute! A film project about Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Story of Sections 15 and 28 produced by International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP). Well worth a watch.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Bookmark and Share
Allyson Hewitt About Allyson Hewitt

Allyson Hewitt is the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation's Senior Fellow in Social Innovation at MaRS Discovery District

Speak Your Mind