Magazine article International Trade Forum

Ensuring Economic Growth for All: Women Worldwide Are Missing out. This Is How We Can Make Economic Growth Equal for All

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Ensuring Economic Growth for All: Women Worldwide Are Missing out. This Is How We Can Make Economic Growth Equal for All

Article excerpt

Glaring gaps in prosperity worldwide have prompted a growing consensus that economic growth must benefit all socioeconomic segments of the population. Putting an end to inequality hinges on, in part, access to employment or business opportunities for the world's poorest but achieving this goal is one of the biggest policy challenges facing governments, corporations and civil society leaders. Whether it is broadband access or daycare options, we need to identify the ideas that will achieve inclusive growth in the developing world.

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the World Economic Forum have partnered to help leaders move from well-meant objectives to concrete action. This partnership is building on the existing work of the forum to break new ground through The Inclusive Growth and Development Report.

The Forum's IDRC-supported project is collecting case studies of inclusive growth successes to feature in a digital knowledge bank. This qualitative data will help to implement national inclusive growth strategies that make the most of public, private-sector and civil resources.

Inclusive growth is a strong current running through much of IDRC's programming. These investments--including the ones highlighted below --are generating insights that feed into the broader discussion of solutions for inclusive growth, especially in regard to women.

WOMEN'S UNPAID BURDEN

One of the key barriers to women's economic growth, as illustrated in the Forum's Global Gender Gap Report, is the time they spend doing unpaid work caring for their families--an average of five hours a day compared to just one and a half hours for men.

The provision of daycare in low-income countries in Africa and Asia could reduce this imbalance and help unlock the full potential of women in the workforce.

Our work is contributing to the growing evidence on the economic returns of expanding affordable and quality childcare options for poor women. Finding sustainable financing models for low-income countries is critical to sustain these gains.

THE POWER OF LARGE BUYERS

Beyond the double burden of work and home responsibilities, women face many disadvantages gaining access to training, finance and markets. IDRC's work with WEConnect International is proving that helping women to register their businesses can improve their market access. In a one-year pilot, 600 women-owned businesses in India registered and 60 obtained certification to supply large companies. The pilot helped generate additional revenues of C$170 million (US$126.8 million) and employ more than 4,600 people across India. There is scope to replicate this success in other countries.

BANKING FOR POOR WOMEN

The importance of increasing women's and other marginalized people's use of formal financial services and training is clear. Evidence from Proyecto Capital has proven that a savings account and financial education can improve the performance of small businesses by as much as 10%--and at a very low cost.

Their findings have helped convince governments in Latin America to adopt policies in support of financial intermediation solutions with a goal of ensuring that 10 million people living in poverty will have enhanced economic opportunities by 2020. …

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