A model for a feminist future

YCI's HerStart initiative drives global equality by developing pathways for women to become social entrepreneurs and create a lasting economic ripple effect.

Equality for economic growth is at the centre of the HerStart initiative

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It's going to take the power and potential of youth, especially young women, to realize gender equality and sustainable economic development. That's why YCI works with a network of global partners to create inclusive opportunities for young people to improve their lives and advocate for change in their communities.

A woman sitting in a classroom with a bright polka dotted headscarf

Here's how we do it

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The HerStart initiative works by being responsive and adaptive to women’s and communities’ needs. We work with partners and youth to:

1. Build supportive ecosystems for economic growth
2. Drive innovation and program implementation
3. Create sustainable social and economic impact

Click on the steps in the diagram to learn more.

Three concentric orange circles

We partner with youth and communities to create supportive ecosystems, developing programs and resources that address the root causes of inequality and the barriers to women's economic participation.

Through innovation and program implementation, HerStart helps young women access the training, mentorship and networks they need to succeed.

As women flourish, so do their communities and we all feel the positive economic and social impact that comes when women have an equal opportunity to thrive.

A woman speaking to a group in a blue room

Programs designed to empower women

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The HerStart Initiative comes to life through thoughtfully designed programs that propel inclusive economic growth for women and their communities worldwide. Shaped by the Sustainable Development Goals, these programs address some of the most pressing challenges women face today. HerStart's first program, Innovate the Future, launched in September 2020 to support 10,000 women to become the next wave of social entrepreneurs.

Why focus on women’s economic power?

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Around the world, women still face discrimination, gender inequalities and barriers to meaningful work. Yet we know that when women are given the opportunity to thrive, everyone benefits. We still have a long way to go and HerStart is a bold step forward.

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Globally, over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men.

– UN Women

IN 5
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More than 1 in 5 young people are not in employment, education or training. 75% of which are women.

ILO 2020

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Currently 40% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa are women-operated but only 2% of them successfully access funding and there is a financing gap of $42 billion between men and women entrepreneurs.

- FinDev Canada

A bold commitment from Canada

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Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy affirms that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is critical to shifting the economic reality for young women, and is one of only 4 such policies in the world today. It acknowledges that, despite recent reductions in global poverty, women and girls still face unique barriers to build a sustainable income. Focusing on helping women and girls thrive is the best way to address the root causes of poverty.

“Canada has adopted a feminist approach because we firmly believe that women and girls have the ability to achieve real change in terms of sustainable development and peace, even though they are often the most vulnerable to poverty, violence and climate change.” – Government of Canada

A feminist approach makes sense and we are committed to empower women globally too.

A group of young woman wearing colourful headscarves