The Secret to a Thriving Global Economy

Emerging economies all over the world are slowing down.

We can look almost anywhere to find the reasons. China’s demand for raw materials has declined creating a ripple effect in places as far as Africa and South America. Political unrest in countries like Egypt is impacting productivity. In places like Argentina, governmental policies and borrowing has destabilized its currency making it very difficult for businesses.

What’s the world to do? Write about the slow down, take a hit in emerging fund portfolios, or wish for better times?

No. The greatest untapped resource in the world that could fuel global economic growth is right in front of us, hidden in plain sight. All we have to do is unleash its potential. All it has to do is decide to fully engage.

“The greatest untapped resource in the world that could fuel global economic growth is right in front of us: the ever-increasing talent pool of educated women in emerging economies.”

That resource is the ever increasing talent pool of educated women in emerging economies. But, unfortunately today, millions of highly-educated, highly-qualified, highly-capable women are on the sidelines, on the home front or only marginally utilized in the global workplace.

Google doodle IWD

We loved this image from Google for International Women’s Day this year on March 8.

For just one example, we can look to Jordan where over half of college graduates are women but only 10% of the workforce is comprised of women. There have been numerous studies projecting the impact on countries’ GDP if female employment rates were to match male rates. The effect would be considerable and is estimated in the double digits in developing countries.

We have already seen a considerable impact from women joining the formal economy in  emerging markets For every additional dollar of income women in emerging markets earn, they invest 90 cents in their families’ education, health and nutrition in compared to the 30-40% invested by men creating an economic multiplier.

We have it in our power to enable women in emerging economies to be fully engaged in the global workforce.

Women like Tamara Abdel-Jaber, founder and CEO of Palma an IT management consulting business in Jordan, Tantaswa Fubu, partner at KPMG in South Africa, Nithya Raman, an Urban planner in India, Wee Yen Lim, a Malaysian women who started an online fashion business in Mexico, Manar Al Moneef, Managing Director Imagination Breakthrough at GE in Saudi Arabia and Lyubov Simonova, a venture capitalist in Russia, have more than proven that it possible for women to be successful anywhere in the world. Inspite of all the obstacles that people love to cite: regulations, parental or societal disapproval, lack of funding, family pressures, unsafe travel or work conditions, women are succeeding in every sector, in every industry, at every level and in every country of the world. They are starting businesses, innovating and becoming partners and CEOs driving new job creation.

“Inspite of all the obstacles that people love to cite: regulations, parental or societal disapproval, lack of funding, family pressures, unsafe travel or work conditions, women are succeeding in every sector, in every industry, at every level and in every country of the world.”

The global economy will only thrive when all of its talent – not half its talent – is fully engaged. What will it take to make that happen? It will take progress, movement and change on the both sides of the equation.

First, on the structurally and political side:

Governments have to do away with archaic laws and regulations that make it hard for women to start businesses or work. Businesses have to institute family friendly practices and commit from the top to encourage, support and promote women.

On the other side, societally and individually, three things have to happen:

  1. Women who wish to work have to be supported by their families, their husbands, their religious institutions and their communities.
  2. Women, themselves, have to decide to engage economically. They have to have the confidence that they are as capable as their male counterparts – and they are! They have to believe that in spite of entrenched obstacles there is a path to success – the women who have come before them have already cleared the way.
  3. Lastly, we have to prepare women to succeed by bridging the gap between their education and workplace readiness skills. They need workforce readiness training, resources, networks and sponsors that can accelerate their success.

Let’s stop wondering how we can stimulate global economic expansion. All we have to do is unleash and engage the talents of our greatest underutilized resource. The world is waiting.

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