Gender driven global economics

No less an entity than the US State Department today announced a new initiative to approach world economic growth from the perspective of gender.imgres

As the State Department press release reads: “Growth – the most pressing issue on the agenda of every economic policy-maker in the world today. How do we get it? How do we sustain it? How do we make it inclusive? How do we ensure it generates jobs? Infrastructure investment, eliminating trade barriers, investment in education and research, fostering entrepreneurship, better tax policy – there may be no silver bullet, but we should explore all possible means of raising growth and perhaps the solution is right in front of us. Recent studies suggest that if OECD countries saw full convergence of men and women in our labor force, these countries would benefit from an overall increase of 12% in GDP over the next 20 years. Now the question is: how do we get there?

“Gender and its relevance to macroeconomic policy is a relatively new field. And while work has been done on the data and analysis front in recent years, the topic is still in its early days. Tackling gender in the field of human rights and development dates back decades. Good data and analysis led to mainstreaming policy at places like the UN, the World Bank and the Regional Development Banks, the State Department and USAID, as with many donor governments around the world. This provides the IMF with a tremendous opportunity to do the same exercise when it provides economic assessments of countries around the world. The IMF has ramped up in recent years dialogue with member countries on issues like inclusive growth and labor markets, and more and more research is pointing to women as key to economic growth. To the extent that the IMF can “mainstream” gender might prove decisive to getting us there. IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde says:”More women at work means good news for the global economy” – I couldn’t agree more.

“The IMF is pushing forward the gender driven growth agenda in an important economy right now: Japan. Japan’s last Article IV assessment highlighted the need to increase women’s participation in labor markets to stem demographic decline and drive future growth. Christine Lagarde personally advocates on this issue. Full integration of women in the Japanese economy is now gaining attention at the top level of government. Prime Minister Abe, who campaigned on increasing women’s participation in Japan’s economy to drive future growth, has claimed “women are Japan’s most underutilized resource.” Prime Minister Abe has rightfully placed the issue of improving women’s participation in the economy as a growth imperative squarely on top of the policy agenda, the third arrow of “Abenomics”.


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