As Economies Falter, How Do We Move Forward?

Global Women Entrepreneurs Provide Solid Start

Published on, by Geeta Rao Gupta, April 13, 2009.

As economists worldwide grapple with the hard reality that 46 million more people will be added to the global poverty count this year, women and men in these affected communities already are doubling their efforts to soften that landing for their families …

… Countries, donors, and businesses that invest in women entrepreneurs are more likely to exponentially increase the results of their investments – a multiple dividend, if you will. And those that ignore the proven potential of women as economic agents put themselves at a significant disadvantage for future economic growth.

World Is Taking Notice:

International Center for Research on Women, of which I am the head, is not alone in calling for investments in women: the World Bank calls it Smart Economics; the Nike Foundation calls it the Girl Effect. And many others, including corporate and foundation donors as well as our many partner organizations, already are investing in girls and women. In the US, the new administration has elevated the importance of women’s role in economic development by creating the position of ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues and establishing the White House Council on Women and Girls.

These are all important steps forward. But we have some distance yet before we cross the victory line. Women in developing countries still face more obstacles than men in labor markets, receive lower wages for the same work, and have less access to credit, land, education, and other productive resources.

As global poverty deepens, we have a choice: to be dismayed and overwhelmed by it or to be more resolved than ever to do something to change it. We know where to start. Start with women. And we know how to start. Start by prioritizing investments in women’s and girls’ education and business training; and access to credit, markets and land; and by giving women the opportunities and rights they deserve to realize their own vision of economic success.

Most important, we know when to start—now! (full text).
(Women’s names have been changed to protect their privacy).

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