As I send my 12-year-old daughter off to a new school year, I wonder what her place in the world will be – a world where a record 7 billion people will be living as of October 31. With economies continuing to crater in the wealthiest nations and war, famine and tyranny continuing to beset the poorest, I believe that she, and billions of other girls and women, could help us build a healthier future, if we let them. It’s time to invest in women.
It is a tragedy that women are not full partners now in the world’s economy. Although men are credited with performing three-quarters of all economic activities in developing countries, women actually perform 53 percent of the work, according to the United Nations. Women in Africa, for example, represent 52 percent of the total population, contribute approximately 75 percent of the agricultural work, and produce 60 to 80 percent of the food. Yet they earn only 10 percent of African incomes and own just one percent of the continent’s assets.