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Women Drive Economic Growth


Ayesha Farooq, a fighter pilot, talks with avionics engineer Anam Hassan at Mushaf base in Sargodha, north Pakistan June 7, 2013.

“More women at work means good news for the global economy.”

Over the past decade, a growing body of evidence indicates that women are key to economic growth. As International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said: “More women at work means good news for the global economy.”

State Department Chief Economist Heidi Crebo-Rediker said in late June, at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, “We cannot underestimate the importance of getting this piece of the puzzle right; of establishing the positive narrative of women as drivers of economic growth.”

Gender and its relevance to macroeconomic policy is a relatively new field and it is difficult to define and create the right conditions for unlocking the full potential of women in the global economy, added Ms. Crebo-Rediker:

“The issue of further integrating women in the economy comes rife with many social and cultural overtones, which may be particularly problematic in those countries where women’s economic participation is still most limited, and so the reluctance to move away from the safety of tried and true topics pushes this topic off the agenda."

So it is even more important that we push this conversation, said Ms. Crebo-Rediker. Because instead of focusing on the economic boost such integration would provide, the question of women in the economy is talked about only as a "development" issue. Consequently, governments and international organizations must change this conversation by mainstreaming a gender-driven growth agenda.

The mainstreaming of gender policies within institutions, programs, budgets and tax policies contributes to an increase in female employment. For example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that closing the gender difference in labor market participation could add 11.2 percent to the Gross Domestic Product in Germany, 9.4 percent in France and 22.5 percent in Italy.

“Ignoring half of the world’s workforce, half of the world’s economic power is to only achieve half of our potential,” she said. “I hope that . . . . enabling women as a driver of economic growth will soon be as meat and potatoes an economic issue as taxes and monetary policy.”
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