Women, Progress and the Global Economy: Voices from Bank of America and Vital Voices Global Partnership

GAP London 2016(3BL Media/Justmeans) – ‘37 percent of all businesses worldwide are owned by women’, is just one of the powerful messages that flashed across the screen at this year’s ‘Women, Progress and the Global Economy’ event, organised by Vital Voices Global Partnership and Bank of America in London. The gathering was hosted to discuss contemporary issues concerning women’s economic and social empowerment, with a special emphasis on women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Eastern Europe. The event was held on the back of a weeklong mentorship initiative to empower women in business and social enterprise in the (MENA) and Eastern Europe, and is part of the ongoing Global Ambassadors Program, a Vital Voices and Bank of America partnership.

The forum had an impressive lineup of thought leaders that included, Christiane Amanpour, chief international correspondent, CNN; Kim Azzarelli, co-founder, Seneca Women; co-author, “Fast Forward”; Amel Bouchamaoui Hammami, chair, Tunisia Partners for a New Beginning – North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity Advisory Board; Shelley Brindle, executive vice president, Domestic Network Distribution, HBO; Elizabeth Dibble, deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy, London; Anne Finucane, vice chairman, Bank of America; Baroness Mary Goudie, member, British House of Lords; Atifete Jahjaga, President, Republic of Kosovo; and Alyse Nelson, president and CEO, Vital Voices Global Partnership. Together, they discussed the critical importance of elevating women’s economic empowerment and explored how women’s leadership and entrepreneurship have the power to address urgent societal issues.

According to the World Bank in 2014, women would earn about $18 trillion in that year, which would be more than twice the projected GDP of China and India combined. Ironically and simultaneously, more than two-thirds of the world’s poorest people are women. This means women are a largely untapped source of economic opportunity that can make for a wise investment. Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman, Bank of America says, “Women play a crucial role in advancing the global economy, with recent research indicating that their participation in labour markets could add as much as $28 trillion to global annual GDP by 2025. By connecting women leaders from the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe to mentoring for skills -building and broader networks, we can help bring more stability and prosperity to these regions.”

Women have pushed through so many barriers to achieve what they have and are now poised to grow, despite the challenges. Alyse Nelson, President and CEO of Vital Voices says, “In this fifth year of our partnership with Bank of America, we are proud of the impact we’ve had on advancing women leaders as engines of economic growth and agents of social change.”

This event highlighted the critical role women play as drivers of innovation and socio-economic growth, in particular, how women are contributing to humanitarian and social change through their businesses, social enterprises and not-for-profits. It was repeatedly echoed by the various speakers that took to the stage: women around the world are drivers of positive change and globally the biggest emerging market ever seen.

Photo Credit: Bank of America