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A new report from the Women and Foreign Policy program, launched this week, highlights the undeniable connection between women's economic participation and prosperity.
Over the past two decades, a growing number of international organizations and world leaders have recognized that the economic empowerment of women is critical to economic growth and stability. Multilateral bodies such as the Group of Twenty and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum have ratified agreements to promote women in the economy as a means to stimulate growth, and governments from the Ivory Coast to Rwanda to Japan have adopted reforms to increase women's ability to contribute to their economies. These developments have fueled mounting international recognition of the importance of women's economic advancement to poverty reduction and economic growth, manifested most notably in the landmark Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the United Nations in September 2015. The SDG framework specific targets to improve women's economic participation, including equality in property ownership and inheritance and access to financial services, natural resources, and technology—the first time for a global development agenda.
Yet despite this growing recognition, national and international economic leaders continue to make and measure policy in ways that undervalue women's work and do not capitalize on women's economic participation. Serious proposals to address critical barriers that limit women's economic contributions remain absent from mainstream economic policy discussions. The ways in which gender affects time use, human development, and access to assets and markets are too often ignored in policy dialogue. Women's work in the informal economy and inside the home is uncounted or undercounted. Structural and cultural barriers continue to inhibit women's participation in higher-wage sectors and occupations, and gender wage gaps persist everywhere in the world.
The Donald J. Trump administration has expressed support for easing barriers to women's economic participation and, correspondingly, should take steps to grow the U.S. commitment to unlocking their economic potential. Even in an era of tightening budgets, Washington can reprogram existing economic development funding to promote women's economic empowerment as a tool to accelerate growth and reduce poverty. The new report from the Women and Foreign Policy program suggests that, to this end, the administration should incentivize legal and policy reform; increase women’s access to capital and financial services; create an economic inclusion challenge fund; promote technology and innovation; support research and data collection, and enact domestic polices to lead the world by example.
By strengthening its focus on women's economic participation, the United States can improve the returns on its economic development efforts and promote cost efficiency by investing in a proven driver of economic growth.
Read the full report here >>