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Women: The Third Billion

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By eliminating restrictions on women, governments and businesses can benefit from a vital resource to spur growth and innovation.

If China and India each represent roughly one billion emerging participants in the global marketplace, the Third Billion represents women who are entering the mainstream economy for the first time.

This notion grew out of Booz & Company's analysis of International Labor Organization data on women in the global workforce. The report determined that approximately 860 million women worldwide are "not prepared" (lacking sufficient secondary education) and/or "not enabled" (lacking support from families and communities) to take part in the world economy.

Untapped potential

Approximately 860 million women — over 25% of all womenworldwide — are "not prepared" and/or "not enabled" to take partin the world economy.

Source: Booz & Company

Most of these women are between the ages of 20 and 65, and nearly 95% live in emerging economies; the rest live in North America, Western Europe and Japan. Counting female births and those under age 20, this number will add up to a billion in the next decade.

This group is a powerful resource for driving global economic growth. The Third Billion will have a multiplier effect, which happens when large population segments integrate into the global economy, as in the case of China and India. As newly enabled consumers and workers enter the economy, they create new markets and increase the available talent pool.

The Booz researchers point out that the multiplier effect of the Third Billion will be much greater than that of previous demographic expansions, since this group of women is widely dispersed across the globe. Furthermore, economically active women tend to have fewer children and therefore more independent lives.

According to United Nations data, women invest a larger proportion of their income in the education of their children, preparing the latter to make a greater economic impact in the future.

Yet the women belonging to the Third Billion face formidable legal, social, financial and cultural constraints that prevent their full participation in society. By working together to eliminate these restrictions, governments and businesses stand to benefit from a vital resource that can help spur growth and innovation.

Our rapidly changing world is in need of great leaders. Full participation of women in team activities such as sports nurtures the advanced leadership skills that the complex world economy so urgently needs. Propelling women forward can bring powerful positive change to the global economy.


"According to a survey of executive women, 81% played sports growing up, and 69% said sports helped them to develop leadership skills that contributed to their professional success."

MassMutual Financial Group and Oppenheimer Funds
From the Locker Room to the Boardroom: A Survey on Sports in the
Lives of Women Business Executives, 2002



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