`Lack of participation by women damages economy`
Lima: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday in this capital of Peru that the world economy is losing out because of restrictions placed on the participation of women in the workforce.
Hillary said that restrictions on the participation of women in the global economy had been quantified and it had been determined that the world was losing "massive" amounts of potential wealth because women were being excluded. In eastern Asia alone, she said, $40 billion in potential gross domestic product was being lost yearly.
The US secretary of state was in Peru to participate in the international conference entitled "Power: Woman as engine of growth and social inclusion" being held here as part of the activities surrounding Social Inclusion Week.
Also present at the conference, which was held in a hotel in the capital`s San Isidro district amid heavy security, were Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and the executive director of UN Women and former Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet.
Hillary said that by facilitating the participation of women in the workforce, the US could increase its GDP by about 9 percent, while in the eurozone the increase could be as much as 13 percent.
She also said that Latin America is on the road to giving women greater ability to participate in that region`s economy, a move that began to gather momentum during the 1990s.
Hillary announced the creation of a fund for businesswomen to which the US had made an initial contribution of $900,000 to launch pilot programs in Peru and Honduras, and she issued a call for more contributors.
She also mentioned another initiative of female leaders in Peru that will focus on the rural population and will receive a contribution of $500,000 from the US government.
Bachelet said that inequalities must be overcome with greater political commitment, with education, with more women in key decision-making posts and other measures.
"A billion women are not able to reach their full potential as people and their economic potential due to obstacles such as unequal access to opportunities, to loans, the lack of education and the lack of support from their communities to enter the labour force," she said.
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