The great potential of women has yet to be realized.
Emerging markets offer the best growth prospects for businesses after the global downturn of the past few years. However, perhaps the biggest and most exciting new market of all is an overlooked one: women.
Women are the largest emerging market in the world. Over the next decade, they will wield enormous influence over politics, sport, business and society. In the next five years, the global incomes of women will grow from US$13 trillion to US$18 trillion. That incremental US$5 trillion is almost twice the growth in GDP expected from China and India combined.
By the year 2028, women will control close to 75% of discretionary spending worldwide. Women own about a third of all businesses in the world, and nearly half of those businesses are in developing markets.
Women increasingly at the economic center
Between 2002 and 2007, women's income (globally) increased by nearly $4 trillion to $9.8 trillion. By 2017, women's income will jump by almost $6 trillion to $15.6 trillion.
Source: Boston Consulting Group
With the eyes of the world on the 2012 Olympics, it is impossible to ignore the great strides that women have made in sport.
For the first time, women athletes from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei are participating in the Olympics and the US Olympic team has more women delegates than men. Women also make up more than 40% of the total number of athletes at the 2012 Games.
Nevertheless, the great potential of women has yet to be realized. In both developed and emerging economies, women are underrepresented in leadership roles and in many aspects of business, social and political life. Sport can be an energizing factor in society, yet in many countries, women and girls do not have access to sporting activities and do not play a significant part in sports' ruling bodies.
In business, the picture is just as unbalanced. For example, although the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies has doubled in the last decade, in 2012 it is still only 4% of the total. In industrialized economies, just 11.1% of board directors are women, and in rapid-growth markets, that number falls to 7.2%.
According to the World Economic Forum, "Female [corporate] employees tend to be concentrated in entry or middle level positions — that is, the more senior the position, the lower the percentage of women. … From the sample of the world's largest employers who answered our survey, the average number of women holding the CEO-level position was a little less than 5%."
The missed opportunity is more striking in light of the difference that empowered women can make to the world. Closing the gender gap enables both public and private sector organizations to stoke measurable economic growth.
This report looks at the following topics:
"Sport is one of the best tools for social change because it is a large part of cultures around the world and reaches into every socioeconomic class of society. If laws are put in place, the benefits will be beyond measure. Sport helps develop self-esteem and confidence; improve physical and mental well-being, serve as a medium of communication and empower women to improve themselves and their communities."
Nawal El Moutawakel
1984 Olympic gold medalist