“Limiting the potential of women will limit a
country’s economic growth.”
-Secretary Jacob J. Lew
This was the essential
message Secretary Lew imparted during his remarks at last week’s meeting of the
Futures Partnership at the World Bank. As part of the annual spring
meetings, Secretary Lew joined World Bank President Jim Kim, White House Senior
Advisor and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie
Jarrett, and Chief of Staff to the First Lady and Executive Director of the
Council on Women and Girls Tina Tchen in opening a roundtable discussion with
partner countries on the progress and goals being made in fostering women’s
economic and political participation in the United States and around the world.
The White House launched
the Equal Futures Partnership initiative last year, with the U.S. being joined by twelve other founding members
(Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the
Netherlands, Peru, Senegal and Tunisia, along with the EU) each of whom made
national commitments to policy, legal, and regulatory reforms that would
promote two mutually reinforcing goals: expanded economic opportunity for
women; and, increased political and civic participation by women at local,
state and national levels.
During last week’s meeting
at the World Bank, Secretary Lew spoke about the direct role women have in
strengthening any country’s economy:
For countries to raise productivity, generate demand, and increase their
GDPs, women's full economic involvement is essential. No country can afford to
leave half of its creative minds and productive citizens out of the economic
mainstream. Women can provide the productivity gains and demand growth that are
a critical driver of GDP growth. It is simply smart economics to promote
women's full economic and political participation.
Secretary Lew recognized
that gender inequality in the U.S. is still a serious problem but he noted how
the progress made in the last 40 years has rippled through the economy. He mentioned how "since
1970, women have gone from holding 37 percent of all jobs in the U.S. to 48
percent. Without this modest increase, some estimate our economy would be 25
percent smaller today."
To read Secretary Lew’s
full remarks at the Equal Futures Partnership meeting click here.
Also read White House’s Fact
Sheet on the progress being made by the U.S. and partner countries in
implementing Equal Futures commitments.
Anthony Reyes is the New Media Specialist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.