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Building peace through entrepreneurship
There are more similarities between farming and selling books than you might think.
Entrepreneurs all over the world are providing for their families and communities as they design, launch and run their businesses. With dedication and passion for their work, they build capacity, instill agency and create a robust economy.
This happens all over the world every day.
In this way, entrepreneurs are also peacebuilders. When people are employed and able to provide for their families and communities, an environment for peace is created. Peace is more than just the absence of conflict. It is about fostering a safe and positive community where entrepreneurs, families and communities can grow and thrive.
Involving women in entrepreneurship is critically important to sustaining peace because they contribute to the growth and sustainability of a country’s GDP as they engage in business as consumers, employees, suppliers and community stakeholders. As women are empowered through business and entrepreneurship, there is a positive influence on a range of systems that impact peace – from gender equality, to education to healthcare.
This is recognized by the United Nations through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) five, “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Through its targets, Goal 5 recognizes the strong relationship between women’s economic empowerment and achieving gender equality.
Across the world, women are shifting narratives and challenging the constraints placed on them.
In Ghana, women are challenging systemic issues through agricultural entrepreneurship through MEDA's GROW project. Meanwhile, across the ocean in Canada, Rachel Thompson of Marlena Books is creating a positive environment that is filled with dignity for those that are aging in Canada’s long-term care homes.
At first glance, these women are unconnected. But one thing unites them. Their desire as women entrepreneurs to challenge the issues that they deem as unjust in their communities.
In Ghana, MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project is focusing on improving food security in northern Ghana by assisting women farmers as they grow soybeans and forging market links that will increase their incomes sustainably.
Through entrepreneurial programs like MEDA’s GROW project, women are empowered and encouraged in their entrepreneurial activities. This effort to improve livelihoods by investing in women helps tackle systemic issues like gender inequality while promoting peace. When there is equality, there is peace. By challenging social norms together, women entrepreneurs form a connection to one another that reaches beyond cultural, generational and national borders.
In Canada, it is much the same. Waterloo, Ontario is a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship where female entrepreneurs are making similar strides through entrepreneurship – working to transform systems to build peace.
Marlena Thompson, has taken full advantage of this environment. As a participant in the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, she is working to address inequalities in long-term care by providing dignity for those that are aging through Marlena Books. As Thompson creates material that fosters dignity and respect among populations with cognitive disorders, she is challenging the way society interacts with these individuals. Through her business, Thompson is advancing peace by changing the way people living with these conditions are being treated and cared for, which reverberates through the health care system, families affected and communities.
Despite living an ocean apart, women in Ghana and Waterloo have the shared goal of advancing the involvement of women in entrepreneurial activities while also sustaining peace in their communities.