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)
Access to Markets (Sally Susman, Executive Vice President, Policy, External Affairs and Communications, Pfizer Inc.)
Skills Training and Capacity Building (Beth Brooke, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, Ernst &Young)
Leadership (Maud Olofsson, former MP and former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and Minister for Enterprise and Energy)
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.
For more information: http://www.state.gov/e/eb/adcom/icwbl/