President of the global strategic advisory firm Teneo, Doug Brand examines the great potential and opportunity empowering women has for the world economy.
Citing a study by Care International, Band asserts that although women are doing 66% of the world’s work (formal and informal) and producing half the world’s food, they are only earning 10% of the world’s income, and own only 1% of the world’s property. Instead of feeling hopeless or helpless about these figures, Band says numbers like this should inspire us to provide more opportunities for the girls and women of the world, not just to improve their lives, but to stimulate entire economies that will benefit all the citizens of the world. The Booz & Co’s Third Billion Index shows that if the employment rates for women were similar to that of men, economic growth around the world could reach an astounding 34%.
In 2005 Band worked with the Clinton administration to create the Clinton Global Initiative. Part of the initiative included women’s issues which are included in the core strategies of a broad range of businesses. Two such ideas prompted by the initiative are WEConnect International and Vital Voices. These programs are designed to bring together an assortment of participants to incorporate more women-owned businesses into corporate supply chains. The goal of the initiative is to increase spending on women-owned businesses by a minimum of $1.5 billion per year by 2018. Such a result would make a great difference on families and economies all over the world.
Band says that efforts to help women attain economic empowerment have been implemented for decades, and we are now beginning to see some of the positive outcomes. In at least 45 countries around the world there are more girls in secondary school than there are boys. In college women outnumber men in 60 countries worldwide. In the past three decades over 500 million women have entered the workforce, adding significantly to the number of women doing paid work.
Band points out that there is still a lot to do to meet the world economy’s ultimate potential. He believes society is more prepared to meet this challenge now than ever before. We should continue to implement the programs that work, and change the beliefs and attitudes that hold women’s empowerment back.