Note from the editor: To kick off Women’s History Month in the US, our guest blogger, Walden Kirsch from Intel’s Internal Employee Communications team, sat down with three of our senior female leaders about Intel’s efforts to help girls and women all over the world as well as ways that you can get involved.
Shelly Esque—a VP and leader of the Corporate Affairs Group—recalls a desperate woman she met from Uganda named Beatrice. Beatrice had lost most of her family to AIDS, and was on the verge of losing her farm. She walked 4 kilometers to an Internet café, reached out online for legal and community help, and eventually got the help she needed to save her land.
Roz Hudnell recalls the young girl from Haiti whom she helped mentor in a Computer Clubhouse. Roz, Intel’s director of Global Diversity and Inclusion, recalls proudly that her protege went on to earn a degree from the University of Massachusetts and is now finishing her master’s degree in engineering.
Two young girls who had just arrived in New York City from China needed to learn basic English, quickly. A volunteer—Intel’s Nancy Bhagat, now a VP and director of Marketing Strategy and Campaigns—helped them learn English so they could adapt to their new world.
These three Intel leaders are passionate about Intel’s stepped-up efforts in 2012 and beyond to help girls and women—all over the world, but especially in emerging markets—achieve better lives.
These new efforts (see below) expand the company’s already global footprint in education—Intel has been involved in education programs in some 70 nations. But why is Intel involved in activities seemingly so far removed from silicon manufacturing, and what do we hope to gain? In recent conversations Nancy, Roz and Shelly shared their perspectives on why this is a priority for Intel.
Why the special focus on girls and women?
Nancy: I think it’s important for people to understand that a focus on women and girls does not mean that men and boys don’t matter. They very much do matter, but they end up getting targeted naturally. This is not about excluding anyone. It’s just saying that we need to make an extra effort in this area.
Shelly: We think technology can be a great equalizer. Technology takes away a lot of cultural problems. Technology is neutral. Technology can be done anywhere, anytime. There are many opportunities to enable girls with technology and education that will help them catch up and move forward, especially in cultures where boys and girls are separated.
Roz: When I look at Intel’s vision and what we’re trying to achieve—putting technology in the hands of every person on Earth—girls and women have to be central to this vision because they are half the people on Earth.
Nancy: There is a philanthropic aspect of wanting to do something because it is going to make the world a better place. But introducing technology and working to improve people’s lives and economic circumstances will also produce a greater demand for technology and for Intel-based products. So there’s actually a lovely synergy here. Doing the right thing also is good for our business.
Shelly: A lot of research has shown that even in the poorest economies, women are making the purchasing decisions. And when women have the power to earn money, they will invest it in education and the family. The data is absolutely conclusive, that an investment in girls and women is an investment in economic development. For Intel’s future, we need the world’s economies to continue to grow and prosper so that people can enter the age where they can afford technology.
Roz: Think about what our company is about in terms of creating possibilities, about using technology to break down barriers, and about innovation. The fact is that girls and women in countries that don’t have the same access to education, don’t have the same economic and technology opportunities. And it means that we can’t thrive unless they thrive.
What’s new now?
Nancy: In the past we’ve been a little bit hesitant to focus on women and girls, but the data and the statistics speak for themselves. We are increasing awareness on the importance of offering education and technology to women because they will make a bigger difference.
Roz: You’re going to see us reach out and do more and more that initially might not look like science tutoring, or math tutoring. But we’re doing things so that young girls can have better access to education. And yes, regardless of whether they work for Intel or not, their ability to be competent with technology is going to be critical to the success of their lives and, quite frankly, ours.
Shelly: I know we can make a difference, because we have a long track record of making a difference in education. And the data is so compelling about girl’s education that we’ll have a big impact.
As we look to International Women’s Day on March 8 (this is also Women’s History Month in the U.S.), consider how you might join in.
- She Will. A major new worldwide advertising campaign, created by Intel, to empower girls and women by fostering equal economic and educational opportunities. Watch a short video on She Will (runs 1:45). Elements of the campaign include the Intel Learn Program, the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, Intel Teach, and other efforts.
- 10×10. A film and social action campaign—in which Intel is a key partner—which tells the stories of 10 extraordinary girls from 10 nations, narrated by 10 actresses. The message of the film: Educating girls in developing nations will change the world. The campaign’s lofty goals: 1 million “actions” taken in support of girls, and 1 billion media “impressions.”
- Volunteer. There are lots of programs in the community that are focussed on empowering girls and women, get involved! As a bonus to employees, track your volunteer hours and Intel will make a contribution to that organization, amplifying your efforts.
How will you help?