Singapore National Committee for UN Women (UN Women Singapore) and MasterCard are joining hands to launch 'Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World'. This year-long digital and social media driven initiative aims to connect and inspire young people across the world to share their life-changing ideas and fulfill their visions of a better world for disadvantaged women and children.
Project Inspire presents 18-35 year olds with a 5-minute platform to pitch their inspired idea to the world. The grant will be used to bring to life the winning idea and empower disadvantaged women or children in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa through education, skills training, financial inclusion or social entrepreneurship. In addition, special recognition will be given to the best Financial Literacy/Livelihood proposal.
A shortlist of 10 finalists will have to convince a global voting audience of the merits of their proposal, and present live in Singapore to an expert judging panel at the end of August 2011, when the winner will be announced.
Finalists will also get the opportunity to attend a workshop on sustainable social entrepreneurship and hone their presentation skills through a training session with professional consultants.
Project Inspire will rely on the power of social media to connect people around the world to participate, interact, share ideas and inspire change. This online community will stay connected with winners as they go out into the field in the fourth quarter of 2011 to implement their vision. Through first-hand views on planning, preparation and implementation of creative, effective and focused programs based on limited resources, others can gain insight and inspiration to take action to change the world for underprivileged communities in their own way.
Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World is jointly organized by UN Women Singapore and MasterCard and supported by INSEAD, Bain & Company and Channel NewsAsia.
The initiative supports the heightened need to devote resources to the empowerment of women. Despite great strides in their socio-economic standing, statistics show that women account for 70% of the world's poor. They work two-thirds of the world's working hours, but earn only 10% of the income and own 1% of the world's property. Giving these disadvantaged women more opportunities to stand on their own feet has enormous socio-economic ramifications, as empowering women fuels economies, spurring productivity and growth.
A growing body of research demonstrates that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. The Global Gender Gap Report 2009, for one, issued by the World Economic Forum found no country where men and women were equal, but noted that where the gender disparity gap was narrower, countries were more economically competitive and prosperous. The report noted that the combined impact of these gaps entails colossal losses to the global society and economy and concluded that significant economic recovery and growth will not occur without the engagement, empowerment, and contribution of women and girls.
Trina Liang-Lin, President, UN Women Singapore, said, "The United Nations Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG3): the empowering of women and girls is recognized to bring about potential multiplier effects for the achievement of the other MDGs such as MDG1: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and MDG4: to reduce infant mortality amongst others."
'Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World' is part of MasterCard's celebration of 25 years in Asia. At the Heart of Commerce, MasterCard has long devoted resources to understanding women and aiding their empowerment across Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. With a specific focus on social entrepreneurship, financial inclusion and financial literacy, MasterCard has been working alongside other likeminded organizations to support a broad range of women's causes through scholarships, financial assistance, educational programs and various sustainability programs. These have helped provide many women with the skills required to stand on their own feet and support themselves and their families.
"The initiative is in line with our ongoing commitment to community outreach efforts that empower women across the region in a sustainable and meaningful way. MasterCard recognizes the vital role that women play in the development of communities and societies. We believe that by empowering these young people one can make a tangible and lasting difference in the world and inspire others to do the same," said Raghu Malhotra, general manager, Middle East, MasterCard Worldwide.
UN Women Singapore and MasterCard have collaborated on other initiatives in the past including the Buy to Save Sale that raises funds to support initiatives reaching out to women affected by violence, as well as the UN Women Singapore Say No to the Oppression of Women (SNOW) gala.