Why I’m a Material Girl (sort of)

How does the economy impact women? It’s our daughters trying to get a loan to buy a flat, our mums trying to open a bank account and our sisters wanting a fair deal on child-care. It’s millions of women across the world wanting a route out of poverty.

Now there is a feminine perspective on economic issues, called the W20, an offshoot of the G20 (the group of 19 major economic nations plus the EU).

The actions of the G20 matter to all of us. Like it or not, they control 90% of the global economy and are home to 75% of the world’s population. And the rest of the world is bound to feel the impact of their decisions through trade, finance regulations and jobs.

The G20 has spawned various offshoots –the C20 for civil society, the B20 of business leaders, the Y20 to represent youth and now the W20, to raise women’s voices on economic matters.

The production and consumption of goods, and the wealth this creates, matters to women. And women matter to economics.

The ability of women to access credit, to market their goods and to have training in good practice would give women more respect and more equality, as well as more wealth. I think the passage about the wonderful woman in Proverbs 31 – provider, wife, mother, business woman, home maker – is a good model of what godly women can achieve if they have the opportunity.

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, spoke this week about the G20’s goal to increase the participation of women in the ‘formal’ labour force as a ‘no-brainer’ – it will result in 100 million new jobs for the global economy. And 100 million consumers and tax payers!

Lagarde said, “We know that empowering women boosts economic growth. For example, we have estimates that, if the number of female workers were to increase to the same level as the number of men, GDP in the United States would expand by 5 percent, by 9 percent in Japan, and by 27 percent in India.1

She said there was also evidence that getting more women into secure and well-paid jobs raises overall per capita income AND reduces income inequality.

Young mothers in the developed world might worry that they are being forced back into the workforce, but for many women in poverty in the developing world, a job means basic security and provides independence.

The W20 wants to remind the men of the G20 (and it is nearly all men) that women matter.

Lagarde identified three crucial ways that girls and women can get a hand-up in their working life.

Getting an education: one extra year of primary school boosts a woman’s earning potential by 10 to 20 percent. One extra year of secondary school boosts her earning potential by 25%.4

Getting a good job: IMF research notes that 9 out of of countries have at least one major legal restriction that makes it difficult for women to work.11

Getting help with family: it might be good child care or tax breaks or schemes that can help dads take time form work.

“The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.” Aung San Suu Kyi

It’s a package of measures that families, governments and business can take to support women’s economic empowerment.

So my daughter can get good child care and my sister can get a loan for her flat, and my friend in Burundi can start a business.

ACTION: Read Christine Lagarde’s speech in full – the statistics on women and economics are really interesting (I’m not kidding)

If you never read financial or business articles, make a start so you can be ‘literate’ in money matters.

One thought on “Why I’m a Material Girl (sort of)

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