Letter from the International Trade Centre

Article excerpt

I am often asked, "why focus on the economic empowerment of women?" In short, without women, trade generates dollars, but not balanced development.

Women constitute the majority of the world's poor. At the same time, women are the backbone of agriculture in Africa, light manufacturing in Asia and savvy services entrepreneurs everywhere, with most women-owned businesses in the service sector.

Women also have clout as consumers, making about 70% of purchasing decisions in the home--a figure high enough to re-orientate staffing and procurement of corporations to include more women.

Corporate supplier diversity programmes present enormous opportunities for women entrepreneurs to plug into global value chains. In this issue AT&T reveal they spend over $2 billion with women-owned enterprises each year and can trace $26 billion in annual revenue to their Supplier Diversity Programme. This is not philanthropy.

From Canada to Cambodia and more, policy-makers in this issue share inspiration to integrate women in pro-poor national development frameworks. Cambodians make a forceful case for coordination between ministries and responsible stakeholders. Canada's push for equality is backed by research showing that equal opportunity could bring the country $168 billion more in income, an extra 1. …