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Mastercard focuses on empowering women
THE empowering of women has been at the core of payments solutions player Mastercard's corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives around the world.
"Our global drive has its roots in Singapore where we started our CSR initiatives programmes 15 years ago. We have a clear focus on empowering women and providing support for them," said Georgette Tan, senior vice-president of communications at Mastercard Asia-Pacific.
These initiatives build off a broad-based framework, aimed at engaging women of different ages and socio-economic circumstances.
From the onset, Mastercard has engaged the Singapore Committee for UN Women as a key partner to meet these objectives. The pair launched the third Girls4Tech workshop in Singapore last month.
The programme sees Mastercard employees guide female students through an experiential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based curriculum, where they apply their own special skills, as well as maths and science concepts they're learning in school, to solve real-life challenges, Ms Tan explained.
It aims to reach 13,000 girls in Singapore through Girls4Tech by the end of 2018.
Ms Tan has been encouraged by the results so far, noting by the end of the classes: "It is amazing to see them realise their capabilities. We are trying to influence the speed at which we grow towards being a more inclusive society - an issue that is very close to our hearts."
Reaching out to those wishing to pursue tertiary education, Mastercard provides scholarships exclusively for women at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It has awarded scholarships to 17 individuals since 2011.
Those selected undertake a joint undergraduate programme with the Singapore University of Technology and Design, and the Singapore Management University (SMU).
Meanwhile, postgraduates are admitted to the SMU Master of Business Administration programme.
At the regional level, Mastercard and the Singapore Committee for UN Women have collaborated on Project Inspire.
The challenge was launched in 2011, in conjunction with International Womens' Day and Mastercard's 25th Anniversary in the Asia-Pacific.
The programme gave aspiring changemakers in the region, an opportunity to create better socio-economic opportunities for women and girls in Asia and the Pacific.
Finalists of the challenge need to make a 5-minute presentation to outline how they intend to put their initiatives to work, with the winner taking home a US$25,000 prize.
"Providing such a platform is also a sustainable way to advance women as changemakers. They have been able to use that platform to empower themselves while building on their networks with other finalists," said Ms Tan.
While the last Project Inspire challenge took place in 2016, Mastercard and its long-time partner are currently working towards a revamped challenge.
"We are doing so by gathering data from the past few years and taking a look at how we can best use the information in our future plans for helping women," Ms Tan added.
Although it places an emphasis on increasing opportunities for women, Mastercard also works with other partners to contribute to local communities.
An example is in Mastercard's relationship with Club 21 and Como Hotels & Resorts through its Purchase with Purpose initiative.
"For one quarter every year, if customers or guests pay by Mastercard, we will donate to Club 21's nominated charities or to local charities Como operates in," said Ms Tan.
Within Mastercard, the company has also signed up as a member of UN Women's HeforShe initiative in 2016. As part of campaign, male employees at Mastercard pledge themselves as advocates for women, both at home and at work.
Ultimately, the roles played by men and women in working toward an inclusive society are equally important, said Ms Tan. "We are thankful that members of senior management and enlightened men within our ranks have been supportive of these causes over the years and understand how we can use our platform to empower women."
- This article is part of a series highlighting inspiring companies that are catalysts of change in corporate giving. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as a media partner. Go to www.companyofgood.sg for more information.