With International Woman’s Day (March 8) close on the tail of the occasion, many local women entrepreneurs were in the house to be wowed by the former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State’s message regarding women, their role and position in the world.
Hillary Clinton highlighted the long and arduous road travelled by women and girls, especially those in developing countries to get to a place called ‘equal’. Moreover, she spoke about the documented and measurable economic benefits reaped in countries and cultures where women are included in, rather than excluded from the system.
According to the stats on global GDP, countries where women participate in the socio-political and economic systems of that state, beyond benefiting in expected social or cultural terms of inclusivity, actually perform better economically.
It turns out, a nation’s GDP increases when women participate in the economy. A realization that prompted Japan to think hard on ways to include Japanese women in the economic strategy to pull itself out of its decades long recession.
There were some humorous and ironic notes too – like the example of current president of Malawi, Joyce Banda. Banda had been invited by the presidential candidate Bingu wa Mutharica to run with him as his vice president. A canny, strategic move on the part of his regime, to reap the support of Banda and her following, as well as to keep her in close check. With the Mutharica/Bando ticket victorious, Mutharica set about to then replace his newly elected vice president with his own brother. A considerable surprise was dealt to the regime, when Mutharica’s sudden and unexpected death catapulted Joyce Bando into the Malawi presidency.
She remains president of Malawi and as the founder of their National Association of Business Women, her firm roots in the Economics of Inclusion, will continue to prove out Clinton’s point.
Equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for women represent more than the ‘just and ethical’ path to choose; they comprise the ‘smart’ path to choose. Countries that are doing so know this, the economic benefits and increased GDP of these nations speak for themselves.