If you’ve heard of Bitcoin, then you’ve probably heard of the technology behind the cryptocurrency: blockchain. What you may not know is that blockchain and digital cryptocurrencies are helping women from across the globe to transform their lives.

What is the Blockchain?

The blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions are made and recorded chronologically and publicly. These time-stamped blocks cannot be modified and are spread across a global network of computers.

Blockchain’s reach is wider than just powering cryptocurrencies. It can also maintain contracts, personal records and payments which in turn can help to drive women’s economic empowerment — all by simply making more information accessible.

Blockchain technology has the ability to open up trading markets without the need for banks

Payments & Fees

42% of women globally are not able to access banking services, however the disruptive nature of blockchain holds immense promise for female financial autonomy.

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies function by removing the ‘middle man’, they complete financial affairs without a third-party intermediary, like a bank. Instead, blockchain technology is built on peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions, meaning transactions can typically be performed for free.

With cryptowallets costing nothing to open and little-to-no transaction fees being incurred, financial independence instantly becomes more available.

Legal Contracts

According to a UN report, women own less than 20% of the world’s lands. In the majority of countries, women’s land rights are impeded by inadequate enforcement of land laws and male dominated structures that govern many households and societies.

A blockchain ledger can enable women to protect their property ownership as the technology has the ability to verify transactions and counter forgery. This means no government official nor male relative could oppose a woman’s land or property ownership rights if the contracts are inserted into a blockchain ledger.

Blockchain’s ability to verify legal documents could revolutionise businesses and governments

Personal & Official Records

In countries where infrastructure is developing, women are often unable to gain an official ID due to lack of official documents or male relatives holding their IDs.

It’s often impossible to set up a bank account or apply for jobs without this ID, meaning women have their financial freedom and social mobility restricted.

Blockchain’s capacity to file personal records in a safe and cost-efficient manner provides women a personal digital identification store accessible to them anywhere, at any time.

The gender-gap in the blockchain industry is decreasing as more women move into the market

Careers in Technology

Like STEM industries, women are currently underrepresented among careers in blockchain start-ups. However, there’s hope as women working in blockchain are changing the notion of tech as a bit of ‘boys club’.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Digital Currency Group’s Meltem Demirors stated that the “sands are shifting” in the blockchain industry. Now, more women are investing, integrating and innovating this technology into their lives.

Blockchain’s decentralised network also provides those living in rural areas with the same access as those living in a city centre. Meaning, work opportunities aren’t so centred around larger cities, smaller communities can get a slice of the action too.

Final Thoughts

Blockchain can’t alter laws, nor can it reconstruct societal norms within traditional male-female power relationships. However, what blockchain can do is become a powerful transformative tool for heightening women’s economic possibilities and scope for spearheading innovation in today’s world.

Words: David Bailey-Lauring
Pictures from Omar Lopez and Joshua Newton, Unsplash and Pexels.