Women are strong and fierce, and they are changing the world. I’ve written that women are better leaders than men, even if they don’t always get paid as much as their male counterparts. In the #MeToo era, there are constant reminders that women are still treated so badly. Nevertheless, women everywhere are persisting.
YPO member Tara Dawood is not intimidated. She’s a lawyer, journalist, and business executive who has stared down plenty of male-dominated boardrooms. In fact, she was the first female CEO of a financial institution in Pakistan. Today, Dawood is the CEO of 786 Investments, an asset management firm in Pakistan. As President of the Dawood Global Foundation, she is involved in philanthropic efforts and charitable causes all over the world, many focused on empowering girls and women. Her efforts are empowering girls all over the world, helping them access education, achieve financial security, and reach their full potential.
On an episode of my podcast YPO 10 Minute Tips from the Top, Dawood shared her precise areas of focus to help young women prepare for a productive and prosperous future:
Education, above all else, is the key to success. Dawood studied at Cornell, Oxford, and Harvard Law, and she emphasizes the role of education in all her charitable efforts. Dawood explains, “We want girls to be able to achieve their full economic potential, for themselves and for their communities.” According to Dawood, if all mothers around the world were able to complete primary education, maternal deaths would drop to one third of the current rate. That’s why Dawood founded the Educate A Girl Initiative, which is on a mission to educate 1,000 girls in 1,000 cities around the world.
Dawood has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and wants to instill that in girls around the world. Women control incredible economic power, but there’s potential for even more. In fact, Dawood says that if more females around the world had the opportunity to work, it could grow GDP as much as 34% in some countries. In response, Dawood founded LadiesFund to help provide financial security to women and to promote and train female entrepreneurs. “In the communities we targeted, there’s a great economic loss when girls are educated but don’t have the opportunity to work. It has negative impacts economically, and can have negative impacts within the family unit,” she explains. Educate A Girl also sponsors scholarships to allow girls to complete vocational training, helping them enter the world force and gain some economic independence.
When she founded it, Dawood’s primary goal for Educate A Girl was to train more female journalists. “We wanted to remind girls about the power of their voice,” Dawood says, “and to give their voices the opportunity to be heard.” There were economic reasons, too. “Journalism is an acceptable and relatively easy way for women to have income. They can have a revenue stream regardless of law and order, transportation, or other issues,” Dawood explains.
When Dawood first moved to from Canada to Pakistan, she “found there weren’t that many women involved in finance. And not just in terms of senior banking positions, but also in terms of their money,” she explains. Dawood was determined to increase those numbers. Another goal of the Educate A Girl Initiative is to give girls access to vocational training and scholarships for financial education. This will increase the number of females in in the financial sector, and will increase the financial literacy of women who work at home or in small businesses.
Dawood considers herself lucky that she grew up with strong female role models to aspire to, and she wants to provide this inspiration to more girls. “I want Pakistani women to remind each other and the world that she is not alone. There is an abundance of extraordinary Pakistani women,” Dawood affirms. One of the goals of LadiesFund is to connect female Pakistani professionals and entrepreneurs to each other and to local, national, and international resources. Further, part of the design of training female journalists in the Educate A Girl Initiative was that “We wanted to get real, on-the-ground stories heard, of women and by women,” Dawood says.
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.
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