Friday, October 26, 2007

Empowering Women: Promoting Growth

Featured Speakers: Acting USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore; Minister of Finance, Republic of Liberia Dr. Antoinette Sayeh; VP and CEO, International Financial Corporation Lars Thunell; Manager of Doing Business Project Simeon Djankov

As women begin to play an increasingly significant role within the system of developing nations, reports have been conducted to assess the economic growth that results from the empowerment of women.

The panel was dedicated to discussing global initiatives in promoting women-owned businesses as reported by the Doing Business 2008 report, the annual documentation investigating the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. With the theme of the 2008 report specifically being “women in business,” Fore explained the benefits of empowering women on economic growth.

“The under-utilization of women stunts economic growth,” said Fore. “Women cannot be kept out of a formed economy.” She said that good business regulations will allow women to be a part of an economy.

CEO of IFC Lars Trunell agreed with Fore stating that it is “important to take every opportunity help women reach their potential,” and called the Doing Business report a “catalyst for reform.”

Djankov then introduced the logistics of the Doing Business report, presenting the breakdown of the report. Using supportive data, Djankov explained that opening economic opportunity is primary for women because of the higher percentage of unemployment being among women. Currently in Rwanda, 45% of businesses are run by women, compared to the 25% of last year.

Her Excellency Dr. Sayeh said that the results from the Doing Business report are leading to competition among nations. There are however, still obstacles to change and Sayeh explained that “without a stronger private sector response, constituency of reform will be limited.”

According to a recent gender needs assessment, women comprise the majority of agricultural activity. Dr. Sayeh explained that in Liberia, only 2% of women work in the private sector. Dr. Sayeh continued to say that there are countless obstacles in implementing reforms, Liberia is working to decrease corruption and asked that USAID and IFC sustain their support as Liberia continues to reform its systems.

USAID reported that presently Egypt is the top reformer in the region and worldwide, cutting the minimum capital required to start a business from 50,000 Egyptian pounds to just 1,000 and halved the time of cost of start up.

Sponsor: U.S. Agency for International Development

Location: The Washington Club, 15 Dupont Circle NW

Date: Friday, October 19, 2007

Time: 11:00 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.

Approximate Number of Attendees: 140

Intern Attending: Noon Salih

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