by Joachim Marc Christensen

Many women around the world never step foot inside a classroom, never get to learn about personal health and reproduction and never enjoy freedom of choice when it comes to motherhood and education. This vicious cycle must be broken. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we present five available solutions that transform the lives of women and girls. These solutions have the potential to help local communities and pave the way for gender equality globally.

By 2030, we need to end “all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere”. That is the ambitious aim of Global Goal #5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Gender inequality has been in the headlines this past year, from the record breaking Women’s March in Washington and across the United States and the global #MeToo movement, rallying voices against sexual harassment and power imbalances in over eighty-five countries.

However, the latest Global Gender Gap Report from World Economic Forum concludes that the gender pay gap is widening into reverse this year for the first time. It will now take will take 217 years for women to gain equal pay if progress happens at the current rate.

It does not take an economist to recognize that this estimate is irreconcilable with the Global Goals. But hope is abundant if you know where to look, and in the Global Opportunity Explorer we have solutions from entrepreneurs from around the world that are tackling gender equality. From there, we have identified five solutions that make a significant impact on the lives and futures of young women. From all-female education programs to eco-friendly sanitary pads, these solutions have the power to accelerate progress and ensure that gender equality is not beyond us.

1. SMS-driven toolkit improves maternal and child health

Totohealth utilizes both mobile technology and healthcare toolkits to prevent maternal deaths in Kenya and Tanzania. With a personalized messaging platform and voice technology, parents can track their child’s vaccination schedule and clinic appointments, and learn about nutrition and family planning advice. Totohealth’s service package also includes clean delivery kits needed during childbirth as well a newborn survival pack containing critical health supplies for the mother and baby.

2. Mentorship teaches entrepreneurship and workforce readiness to young students

Youth account for 60% of all unemployed people in Africa. Educate! wants to change that. Via its mentorship programs, young men and women in Ugandan and Rwandan secondary schools gets practical skills training and join student business clubs to learn to solve local problems by starting social enterprises and community projects. Success rate? 94% of Educate! graduates now run a business, hold a job, or attend university.

3. Women’s coding school bridges gender gap

85% of Afghan women are illiterate and have no formal education. But now, some of them have the chance to become digital coding champions. Code to Inspire offers Afghan women one year of free education in coding within educational game development and mobile applications. Furthermore, the company helps its students access the digital global marketplace and attain employment that is financially viable and socially accessible.

4. Eco-friendly sanitary pads make life easier for girls in Central and West Africa

One in 10 school-age African girls do not attend school during menstruation, which causes them to fall behind or drop out of school entirely. The MakaPad offers girls a low-cost way to stay in school all month long. MakaPads are eco-friendly sanitary pads, which are 95% biodegradable and made from local papyrus and paper waste. Moreover, they are more absorbent and cost 50% less than typical imported sanitary pads

5. Insurance for women’s healthcare and safety needs in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, Green Delta Insurance have filled a market gap to tackle women’s healthcare, by offering a complete service covering women’s insurance and safety needs called Nibedita. The service includes insurance options tailored to the needs of Bangladeshi women, a digital platform with lifestyle and healthcare information, and a mobile app that can be used in times of emergency.

All these solutions are ripe for upscaling and reveal how entrepreneurs around the world are finding new business models and solutions to empower women from early age and bridge the gender gap. The new generation of young women around the world deserve to experience gender equality in their lifetime. To make that happen, both the public and private sector need to collaborate, support existing solutions, and truly align with Global Goal #5.

Curious about more businesses tackling gender equality? Browse the Global Opportunity Explorer.