Why are blockchain projects important for female empowerment?
Blockchain technology can serve as a transformative tool for empowering women in all socio-economic situations worldwide. Both current blockchain trends and future blockchain applications unveil that blockchain poses significant opportunities for women around the world.
There are many inequalities between men and women in terms of work, financial capabilities and rights. In their broadest sense, blockchain technology can empower women in their financial agency and autonomy, two tightly interlinked things. It means that when women are financially empowered, increasing their ability to decide their lives.
Because blockchain is a gender-neutral technology, it is inclusive and offers open access to individuals worldwide, regardless of their background, identity or any other potential differentiator. All you need is internet access and a basic understanding of how to use the decentralized web, and one is good to go to engage in the global economy. Women can instantly join the industry by opting for a blockchain career at a blockchain company or tap into the many other opportunities out there — e.g., decentralized finance (DeFi).
For instance, any woman can contribute to blockchain projects via communities. As many blockchain projects have open-source code, female developers can navigate the repositories. Women can also get engaged otherwise with Web3, for instance, by participating in a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), running a node, mining cryptocurrencies or staking them.
Moreover, blockchain-based payment systems can enable women in developing countries to participate in the global economy by providing them with secure, low-cost payment solutions. When women decide to trade, use or invest in cryptocurrencies or blockchain projects, they ultimately directly empower their financial capacities and agency to decide upon their own lives.
Crucially, women all over the world are increasingly curious about crypto. This will allow them to engage with blockchain projects as well. Globally, almost half of everyone planning to purchase cryptocurrencies for the first time are women. And since economic empowerment directly facilitates social mobilization, blockchain can continue to spur women in their autonomy and agency. Eventually, holistic progress in all other parts of life and the economy can be made when more women tap into blockchain and develop new Web3 project ideas.
Why is blockchain a great space for female entrepreneurs?
As an open and merit-based space, female entrepreneurs can also leverage the level playing field of blockchain to bring their perspectives and businesses to the table. When women use blockchain infrastructure as a new business opportunity or build new businesses on top of blockchain technology, blockchain enables growth and financial inclusion while mitigating inequality.
As a nascent industry, there are very few established norms, making the blockchain space an ideal opportunity for women entrepreneurs to enter the industry and set themselves as leaders.
Moreover, as blockchain technology is inherently decentralized, it naturally eliminates the need for intermediaries, which have historically been male-dominated. Also, blockchain challenges intermediaries and removes the requirement to use traditional gatekeepers, such as banks, other financial institutions and governmental institutions. This can lead to more diversity and inclusivity in entrepreneurship, which is often lacking in traditional finance and other verticals of technology.
Crucially, the blockchain industry offers a level playing field for women entrepreneurs. Unlike traditional industries, where women often face barriers to entry and bias, the blockchain industry is merit-based, meaning one’s skills and abilities determine success. The industry has a supportive community dedicated to diversity and inclusion. Female entrepreneurs can connect with like-minded individuals, acquire mentorship and access other resources to help them prosper.
Where women globally tap into and develop new companies and business models based on blockchain technology, access to new revenue streams directly promotes their empowerment and autonomy. In this way, women entrepreneurs can establish themselves as leaders and disruptors in the industry and in other parts of their lives.
Related: Top 11 most influential women in tech history
What are some blockchain projects to spur women globally?
Blockchain projects not only create new jobs and spur female entrepreneurship but also enhance women’s rights and other opportunities depending on the specific use case of the project at hand. Projects aimed at gender-based violence prevention, financial inclusion, supply chain transparency, land ownership and women’s rights protection are all ideas to support women globally. Moreover, more holistic platforms aimed at female education and entrepreneurship may be good ways to empower women via decentralized infrastructure.
Preventing gender-based violence
Various blockchain project ideas for beginners may already set a woman’s personal development into motion in the most practical terms. For instance, women may consider creating blockchain-based solutions that prevent gender-based violence. Such a platform could provide a secure and anonymous channel for victims to report incidents and receive support. The platform could also provide a way for organizations and authorities to track and respond to cases in a trustless manner.
Providing financial services and (micro) loans
A similar platform may provide women access to financial services, such as (micro) loans, insurance and wallet-based savings accounts. Microloans are essentially business loans provided through community-based solutions. They are crucial for female empowerment as women may struggle to access capital through traditional banks.
Supply chain tracking for female-owned businesses
Worldwide, female businesses that manufacture products could benefit from a solution allowing supply chain tracking, ultimately enabling ethical and sustainable practices while offering the opportunity to support female entrepreneurs directly. By creating a blockchain-based solution that helps women-owned businesses to trace and verify the authenticity and origin of other products they use, final customers can decide to support said female business, for instance, by routing back payments to individual wallets.
A decentralized registry for female-owned property
Another interesting blockchain project idea would be to develop a blockchain-based solution that provides secure and transparent land ownership records for women. Crucially, the platform could help women prove their ownership of land and property, which is often a challenge in many parts of the world.
Reporting and monitoring solutions for women’s rights
As a native solution or in collaboration with international institutions, such as the United Nations, one can consider developing a blockchain-based platform to protect women’s rights, such as their right to education, employment and equal pay. The platform could provide a way for women to report and track cases. Human rights officers and advocates could use a decentralized platform as a trustless repository to monitor and report on women’s rights development.
Collaborative communities to spur education
Other more holistic solutions for female empowerment include a blockchain-based platform that allows women to connect and collaborate, access training and showcase their professional milestones, for instance, through nonfungible tokens (NFTs).
An investment DAO to support female entrepreneurship
Likewise, a blockchain-based investment platform, or decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), may be built to support female entrepreneurs by providing access to funding and investments, ultimately reducing the barriers to entry even further. As a decentralized organization, all investment decisions will be made through a democratic process that involves all members of the DAO. After making investments, an investment DAO can provide support to portfolio companies through mentorship, connections to investors and customers, and other resources.
Related: How to incorporate DAO and issue tokens to be ready to raise money from VCs?
What are the challenges women face in the blockchain industry today?
While initiatives aimed at promoting gender diversity and inclusion are out there, the industry faces challenges, including a lack of female representation. Besides, full female participation in the decentralized economy may only be feasible after necessary investments in basic (digital) infrastructure have been made.
Figures suggest a significant gender gap in the blockchain industry. A study found that of the leading Web3 companies, only less than 5% were founded by women, and less than 10% of the partners at all crypto venture funds are women. Moreover, women-founded Web3 technology firms account for only 2% of venture capital funding. The results are reflected in another study showing that only 13% of Web3 founding teams include a woman, and only 3% have a team exclusively made up of women.
Several barriers contribute to the low number of women in the blockchain industry. For instance, the industry may be perceived as highly technical and intimidating to women unfamiliar with blockchain. Moreover, women may suffer from imposter syndrome or undervalue themselves by thinking they are not skilled enough to join the sector.
It is essential to mention that, although male-dominated, the blockchain sector is highly inclusive, encouraging and friendly and offers all sorts of jobs beyond technological ones. Having said that, it is important that women always remain cautious and educate themselves on potential risks and perils when they immerse themselves in a new industry. For instance, some women have encountered unethical or criminal behavior in virtual worlds due to the anonymity and lack of oversight by law enforcement agencies.
Educational initiatives may also spur gender diversity and female empowerment. For example, the DLT Talents Program, a free merit-based educational program operated by the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center, offers blockchain education to women worldwide. Moreover, many women are industry leaders in the rapidly evolving and expanding blockchain sector, illustrating the inclusive, horizontal and merit-based approach many blockchain companies take regarding upward mobility.
Finally, it is vital to mention that while blockchain can deliver financial empowerment, transparency and new business opportunities, blockchain technology per se is no silver bullet for all humanity’s structural issues. Practical impossibilities, such as a lack of internet-connected devices, may stand in the way of access to blockchain infrastructure, hence preventing women from entering the level playing field in the first place. And in some other cases, participating in the decentralized economy may only be possible after necessary investments in basic (digital) infrastructure have been made.