The Global Economy Recovery Will Be Driven By Women—Part 3
by Gerry Myers

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 prosperity.

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, September 2009

Read Part 1:  The United States: What Companies Have Done Wrong and How They Can Fix Them

Read Part 2:  Countries Winning with Women


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