Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March, Positive Luxury Co-Founder and CEO Diana Verde Nieto shares why education and ambition are key to transforming women’s lives.
For me, gender equality is about creating choice and opportunity – something that will never be achieved without education. Through education we can liberate women to decide what is right for themselves and create their own future.
Sadly, despite progress over recent years, there is still 32 million primary school-aged girls around the world who are not receiving an education. This number increases to a staggering 98 million at secondary school age, due to the pressures for girls to drop out from school before completing their studies.
As a child, growing up in a dictatorship, I wanted to be a human rights lawyer and knew that studying hard at school would be crucial to achieving this. I didn’t end up becoming a lawyer, but my education and life experience prompted me to become an entrepreneur.
In addition to the skills and knowledge learned from school, young women must also be equipped with the guidance and mentorship necessary to achieving their dreams But, more importantly, they need to be encouraged to believe that they can do it.
I often refer to Marie Wilson’s motto “you cannot be what you cannot see”. As a positive twist, perhaps this motto should also go on to say “but you can be what you can imagine”. I believe it is our duty to show young women and girls that with hard work and an education they can achieve anything they set their minds to!
This philosophy extends to my own life – I am lucky to have worked with some fantastically inspiring women throughout my career, including of course my Co-Founder Karen Hanton MBE. Because our education does not end when we leave school or even university, I am continually learning from the women around me, especially the incredible young women that I work with every day in my team.
This is why we must reach out, through business, philanthropy and our own lives, to support women at home and across the globe.
Coinciding with International Women’s Day, I was so pleased to start this week at an event with Founders4Schools. Founders4Schools is an organisation that connects business leaders with students to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Being in a room full of so many talented and driven women – including Facebook’s Nicola Medelsohn, Janet Coyle of London & Partners, Cristiana Camisotti of Edited and Founder of Rococo Chocolates Chantal Coady – highlighted the importance to me of supporting each other to make progress together.
If we can break through the glass ceiling, we should not pull up the ladder behind us, but extend it to help up our peers and the generations that will follow.
As individual women, we are strong – but together, we really can create change.