2011 Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
By Ritu Sharma and Joe Keefe
“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women from Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their courageous work promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. In awarding the prize, the Nobel Committee stated that democracy and peace cannot be achieved unless women have the same opportunities and rights as men.
They might have added that without gender equality sustainable economic development cannot be achieved either. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that women are the key to a global economic recovery.
A few weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, chairing the first-ever Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High-Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy, made this point emphatically: “By increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, we can have a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies.”
In her remarks, Secretary Clinton recounted some of the evidence: The Economist found that the increase in employment of women in developed economies during the past decade contributed more to global growth than did China. In the U.S., a McKinsey study found that women went from holding 37% of all jobs to nearly 48% over the past 40 years, and that the productivity gains attributable to this modest increase in women’s share of the labor market now accounts for approximately 25% of U.S. GDP. That works out to over $3.5 trillion – more than the GDP of Germany and more than half the GDPs of China and Japan.”
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