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Gender gap is bad for world economy says Clinton

Mon 26 September 2011

, LEAP redactie, LEAP

At the APEC summit in San Francisco this month, US secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on member nations to break down economic and social barriers for women. Women need access to capital, access to markets, support in building skills and in taking their places as leaders in the workplace.  Narrowing the gender gap could lead to a 14-percent rise in per capita incomes by the year 2020 in several APEC economies including Russia and Korea, she said.

Echoing her famous statement during her 1995 address in Beijing, “women’s rights are human’s rights,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s declaration at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit’s Women and the Economy Summit in San Francisco last month underscored the necessity of women’s powerful presence in the global economy.

14% raise in per capita income
Clinton called on policymakers from the APEC nations to take concrete actions that will help break down structural and social barriers that prevent  women’s economic and political participation around the world. She warned them that although there is evidence of women’s progress over the years:  “evidence of progress is not evidence of success, and the rate of progress in our economies varies widely.”  And women’s progress could have favorable results for the world economy. “Unlocking the potential of women by narrowing the gender gap could lead to a 14-percent rise in per capita incomes by the year 2020 in several APEC economies including Russia and Korea,” Clinton explained, citing studies on women’s investing and consumer productivity.

Not a gender to waste
Clinton’s declaration concluded that the beginning of the 21st century marks the Participation Age when “we don’t have a person to waste… and we certainly don’t have a gender to waste” if we want to use the full potential of the world’s economic opportunities. And, she said: “Let us remember that by harnessing the economic potential of all women, we boost opportunity for all people.”

4 fields of action
In her remarks, the Secretary outlined a vision for a fundamental transformation of our economies. She also called for more and better data to measure our results and drive our policy-making. And, she challenged the leaders of APEC economies to take concrete steps, including these outlined in the San Francisco Declaration, which will be delivered to the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Honolulu in November:
1. Promoting greater access to financial services for women entrepreneurs;
2. Improving women’s access to markets by identifying networks and associations that can assist women to access business connections and distribution channels;
3. Encouraging the empowerment of women and removing discriminatory practices that inhibit women’s capacity and ability to build their skills; and
4. Working to support the rise of women leaders—in both the public and private sectors.

Read more about the facts an figures Clinton used:

Watch Clinton’s speech: