Isabel B. Franco, PhD, MA, MBA
Watch her TED Talk and learn how the Women Sustainability Forum and eWisely network were born
Growing up in Colombia, a developing country rich in natural resources, I struggled to access quality education, find gainful employment opportunities, and advance my career. At a loss for what to do, I decided to gather up my small savings, pack my bags full of my dreams, and leave Colombia to relocate to Australia. After only a few months in Australia my savings ran out, so I worked all kinds of random jobs to pay for my studies. But in the end, I was not able to make enough money to stay in school. In my desperation, I decided to start knocking on doors, and I was lucky enough to come across angels who were willing to invest in my education. I was awarded a scholarship to work toward a PhD.
Why did I have to struggle so much to access education and gainful employment opportunities when my country was so rich with minerals, metals, and other natural resources? To add to my dismay, I soon found out I was not alone. Through my research I came to understand that many other women in Latin America–particularly those living in developing resource-rich regions––struggle to access education, employment opportunities, and other forms of human capital; and women in other resource-rich regions of Africa and Asia experience the same reality.
My research led me to the conclusion that there is a simple solution to this crisis. Stakeholders in resource-rich regions must invest wisely in five forms of capital: education, employment, entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation. Investment in these areas will show a real commitment to sustainability that will make a huge difference in the lives of women around the globe.
After all my research in Latin America, Africa in Asia Pacific, I began to feel a huge sense of responsibility to these women. I knew I had to do something about this global predicament, and I was acutely aware that research alone was not going to solve the problem. Instead, if I really wanted to create change in the lives of women all around the world, I had to use what I researched, and move from theory to impactful research and practice. And this is how the Women Sustainability Forum was born.
Dr. Isabel B. Franco
Women Sustainability Forum