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Can 10 Words Really Impact 100 million Women?

08/31/2015 05:38 EDT | Updated 08/31/2016 05:59 EDT

"Bring more than 100 million women into the labor force." These 10 words represent the commitment of 10 Presidents, 10 Prime Ministers and one Chancellor to increase female labour force participation (FLFP) in the name of economic growth. It has been almost one year since G20 Leaders made the commitment in Brisbane, Australia last November. As we get ready for the next G20 Summit in Antalya this coming November, we look for signs of progress.

While the commitment was indeed made by G20 leaders, we all have a role to play in achieving the target.

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For our part, G(irls)20 has been pushing for an ambitious FLFP target since 2010. Now that we have got it, what do we do with it? We start by recalibrating our global discussions. The 6th G(irls)20 Summit will take place on October 5th and 6th in Istanbul and will focus solely on increasing female labour force participation.

Featuring global and local experts from the World Economic Forum, IFC, FBI, Carlson Rezidor, TurkishWIN and several other organizations we will look at:

  1. trends in employment so we know where to create these jobs;
  2. cultural, political and security barriers that stand in the way of women seeking and maintaining employment; and,
  3. best practices in the private sector, government and social profit sector.

G20 Leaders have at least 100 million reasons to meet their target. I offer you my top five:

  1. Women's participation in the labour market is part of the growth and stability equation. If more women work we can reduce the impact of a shrinking workforce;
  2. Significant economic gains will be realized if women are able to develop their full labour market potential. For instance, the GDP would increase in the United States by five per cent, in Japan by nine per cent, in the United Arab Emirates by 12 per cent, and in Egypt by 34 per cent;
  3. For women with children, better opportunities for them will yield better opportunities for their children which, in some cases, will break the cycle of poverty, hunger and poor health;
  4. There is a direct connection between a company's gender diversity and its financial success. In fact, a recent article in the Guardian noted that Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board members achieved considerably higher financial performance compared to those with the least. Specifically, return on equity was 53 per cent higher, return on invested capital was 66 per cent higher and return on sales was 42 per cent higher;
  5. Gender diversity helps companies attract and retain exceptional women in a labor force where the number of women is growing exponentially.

10 words, 100 million women. It can be done.

Farah Mohamed is the Founder & CEO of G(irls)20, the first social profit enterprise to advocate that female labour force participation (FLFP) be a key element of G20 priorities and actions. The G(irls)20 Summit brings together one delegate from each G20 country, plus a representative from the European and African Unions, the MENA region, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In keeping with the G20 Turkey Presidency, a delegate from Azerbaijan, Singapore and Spain will also join this year's Summit. While the G(irls)20 delegates discuss the same topics as the G20 Leaders, the participants are all girls, aged 18-23.

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