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Diplomacy in Action

Declaration of the International Council on Women's Business Leadership

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
November 27, 2012

We, members of the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership (the “Council”), established in February 2011 by the U.S. Department of State in an advisory capacity, under the leadership of the Chairwoman, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Vice Chairs Cherie Blair and Indra Nooyi, met in Washington, D.C. on November 27, 2012.

The Council was established to offer guidance on the integration of business interests and women’s economic empowerment into overall foreign policy as well as to develop strategies for how women can participate as equal partners in the 21st Century economy.

Research has supported the correlation between a country’s smaller gender gap and its increased economic competitiveness, as well as the potential loss of GDP due to barriers to women’s full economic participation.

Therefore, in order to improve women’s economic status and to ensure women’s equal participation, the Council conducted its work around four pillars which are fundamental to women’s economic inclusion: Access to Capital, Access to Markets, Skills Training and Capacity Building, and Leadership.

The focus of the Council’s work is grounded in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) San Francisco Declaration, which was endorsed by APEC Leaders in Honolulu in November 2011, and supports the Equal Futures Partnership launched in New York in 2012; both seek to foster inclusive economic growth by expanding opportunities for women and girls.

The Council recommends and commits to the coordination with the State Department on the following policies and programs, which the four Council sub-committees have developed:

Access to Capital (Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director, World Bank)

  1. Raising awareness of the need, reason and benefits of expanding financial inclusion for women with key stakeholders.
  2. Promoting gender access targets in relevant countries’ financial inclusion strategies.
  3. Promoting the adoption of best practices in service and product delivery for women to financial institutions operating in target countries and regions.
  4. Developing innovative models which leverage technology and regulatory frameworks to expand women’s access to capital.

Access to Markets (Sally Susman, Executive Vice President, Policy, External Affairs and Communications, Pfizer Inc.)

  1. Expanding market opportunities by connecting women-owned businesses to global supplier databases.
  2. Identifying barriers to and best practices for sourcing from women-owned businesses.
  3. Creating incentives to advance the success of women-owned businesses at the national and international level.

Skills Training and Capacity Building (Beth Brooke, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, Ernst &Young)

  1. Connecting women entrepreneurs with business mentors who can continue to guide and advise as their businesses develop.
  2. Helping women access critical skills in business and entrepreneurship training, with a focus on agriculture and technology.
  3. Transforming women into qualified suppliers, providing direct access to specific corporate supply chains.

Leadership (Maud Olofsson, former MP and former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and Minister for Enterprise and Energy)

  1. Promoting work-life balance by introducing family support infrastructure whereby governments demand that public and private child and elder care alternatives are accessible and affordable to all.
  2. Development aid and loans should be conditioned on implementing policies that promote gender equality.
  3. Making gender equality audits required and transparent for all sectors.

In line with its policy recommendations, the Council through its members has approved and recommended a broad range of programs boosting women’s confidence, capabilities and access to capital and markets. Examples of the Council’s programmatic focus include: linking women entrepreneurs from Latin America to global supply chains; expanding an innovative e-mentoring program which connects women entrepreneurs with business mentors, including some from Council member’s own companies; developing a global entrepreneurship curriculum with a focus on agriculture and Information Communication Technology (ICT); advancing women’s business leadership through the launch of a global leadership training program and promotion of the “Golden Rules” pledge; producing fact sheets and policy briefs on closing the access to capital gender gap; developing an international media campaign on the importance of women’s access to capital; and engaging public and private partners to expand financial services for women.

The 2015 Millennium Development Goals target date is approaching and much remains to be accomplished in advancing the economic and social status of women and girls in the world. The Council will continue its commitment to eliminate unnecessary business barriers and to empower women to be successful business leaders and entrepreneurs.

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