“Women’s participation has to be key to all of our efforts for recovery.”
In the wake of the Global Recession, any government looking to strengthen its economy need look no further than the country’s women, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Women’s participation has to be key to all of our efforts for recovery.”
Speaking in Lima, Peru, at the Conference on Women as Drivers of Growth and Social Inclusion, Secretary Clinton said that hard data and scientific studies prove that women are a global force for economic growth. “Restrictions on women’s economic participation are costing us massive amounts of economic growth and income in every region of the world,” she said.
By excluding women from participating in the formal economy, the Asia Pacific region annually forfeits more than 40 billion dollars in Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. By making it easier for women to participate in the labor market, the Euro zone would increase its GDP by 13 percent, and the United States by 9 percent.
“Yet even with so much to gain for all of us, more than 100 countries have laws restricting women’s economic participation,” said Secretary Clinton.
In addition to restrictive laws, four major obstacles prevent women’s full participation in the labor market. They lack access to education and business training. They find it difficult to get financing to facilitate production, and then to access markets for their products. And women often lack the networks, mentors, and leadership opportunities that are critical for business success.
Clearly, removing these barriers to women's inclusion in the labor market is a promising step toward a new flourishing of the global economy.
“We are entering . . . . a new era in human history where you can be a poor woman in the Andes or a poor man in Africa, and you can connect to the rest of the world,” said Secretary Clinton.
“That connectedness means that every individual now has a chance to contribute to the global marketplace. And so let’s use what we now have to make it possible for otherwise marginalized people to contribute in more and better ways. Because in the participation age, we need everybody we can possibly muster to be on the side of peace and prosperity, and I believe it’s going to benefit us dramatically.”