The Business Case for Women’s Empowerment

“The moral case for greater gender equity is clear, and so is the economic case”

Over the past few decades, women around the world have been pushing boundaries on areas like educational achievement, political representation, and economic participation—yet, gender gaps remain.

Globally, just 55 percent of women participate in the labor force, compared with 80 percent of men—and women are only now earning what men did a decade ago.

As countries around the world seek to grow their economies and reduce inequality, tapping into the huge potential of women can be a game changer. Recent analytical work—including that done at the IMF—clearly demonstrates the compelling business case for women’s empowerment. Everyone has a role to play—including governments, businesses, and international institutions.

A game changer

Recent research by the IMF shows increasing women’s participation in the labor force can deliver significant macroeconomic gains.

For example, if Latin American countries raised their female labor participation to the average of the Nordic countries (about 60 percent), GDP per capita could be up to 10 percent higher.

Gender inclusion is also associated with lower income inequality. Again, our research has shown that moving from a situation of perfect gender inequality to perfect gender equality is equivalent to reducing income inequality from the levels prevailing in Venezuela to those in Sweden.

These macroeconomic gains are especially critical in the face of demographic change. Many advanced, and some emerging, economies are struggling to raise growth potential in the face of aging populations and therefore shrinking labor forces. Overwhelmingly, women are not the problem here—they are part of the solution.

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