Women’s economic empowerment …

… as smart economics, a dialogue on Policy Options:

Women play a key role in economic growth and development. World Bank and IMF studies have shown that the economies of the developing countries are losing billions of US dollars because women are still discriminated against in economic life or even excluded from it.

In order to find practical ways of improving women’s economic participation in the developing countries, Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul hosted a conference entitled “Women’s economic empowerment as smart economics” in Berlin on February 2007.

Ministers from the North and the South, senior business figures and representatives of the World Bank and other international organisations discussed possible ways of fostering and better harnessing women’s economic potential.

One focus of the conference was the implementation of the Gender Action Plan launched last September by the World Bank with the aim of enabling more women to take part in economic processes. The conference has been opened by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul. (full text).

She says: A Chinese proverb says that women hold up half the sky. [German feminist] Alice Schwarzer commented: “Women no longer content themselves with half the sky. They want half the world.” Sadly, this is not the reality in many places. All too often, women face larger burdens and have less power and influence than men. I am very pleased that this topic, which is relevant for both developing and industrialised countries, is meeting with such great interest: the topic of women’s economic and political empowerment.

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