Published January 12, 2010 on
Empowering Women for Economic Growth
The business magazine, The Economist,
has proclaimed that the next giant growth wave won't come from the
internet, China or India, but from empowering women.
“As the world struggles
to recover from the current economic crisis, we are reminded of the
important roles women play in the global economy,” said Alonzo Fulgham,
Acting Administrator of International Women’s Day in March 2009.
“Empowering women economically can
lift entire families and communities out of poverty. Today, it is
critical that we renew our efforts to expand economic opportunities for
women. Not only are women the drivers of economic growth, they can be
the drivers of economic recovery.”
Globally, they control about $20
trillion in annual consumer spending. That is expected to rise as high
as $28 trillion by 2014. Women currently earn $13 trillion annually and
that figure could climb to $18 trillion in the same timeframe. In
aggregate, women represent a growth market bigger than China and India
combined—more than twice as big, in fact.
Terry Neece, founder of
The Institute of Economic Empowerment for Women, created a Peace Through
Business program with Afghanistan and Rwandan women business owners.
After a trip of U.S. businesswomen to both countries, 30 women came to
the U.S. for a two-week mentoring and training sessions in August. They
found common threads between the American, Afghan and Rwandan woman
business owners to be numerous.
“The role of women in
pulling countries out of economic peril was vital,” said Mayra Buvinic,
Senior Spokesperson on Gender Equality and Development of the World
Bank, noting that countries worldwide had coped with previous crises by
putting more women into the workplace. That was true, for example,
during the Great Depression in the United States and the Latin American
crisis of the 1990s.
While there is no doubt that recovery
will be based on women developing products worldwide, creating new
businesses, spending as consumers and working to enhance revenues for
themselves, their families and their countries, they are more
conservative in their spending. Fearing the unknown and unstable job
markets, women have been more reluctant to spend, making the recovery
take longer. However, in the end, they will be the driving force to
Read Part 1 & 2: The United States:
What Companies Have Done Wrong and How They Can Fix Them and Countries
Winning with Women.
¹ • Data are from the United Nations
Development Programme’s Human Development Report, 2004; Income is
measured in Purchasing Power Parity
² • Michael Silverstein and Kate Sayre, Harvard Business Review,
Read Part 1: The United
States: What Companies Have Done Wrong and How They Can Fix Them
Read Part 2: Countries Winning with Women