Economy unprepared for 1 billion working women

16 October 2012

In the coming decade, nearly 1 billion women will for the first time enter the global economy. This change in the dynamics of the global workforce will fundamentally shift the way we do business. The impact is likely to be even larger than the traditional megatrends often cited, such as evolving technology, the globalization of markets, and economic challenges in Western countries. That is what advisors of Booz & Company report in their work 'The Third Billion'. At the same time the consultants also observe the world economy is insufficiently prepared to cope with the heavy inflow of working women.

According to calculations by Booz & Company, 870 million women will enter the workforce by 2020 and the number will rise to substantially higher than 1 billion by 2030. Nearly 95% of the total lives in emerging countries. The large influx is largely a result of the increasing global economic convergence and the rise of democracy upcoming countries. "It includes large groups of women that have been living at subsistence level, underleveraged or even suppressed" says DeAnne Aguirre, partner at Booz & Company.

The Third Billion?

The strategy consulting firms refers to the 1 billion women as the 'third billion'. The reason being that their economic impact is expected to be just as massive as the influx of the Chinese ('first billion') and Indian ('second billion') population to the global economy.

Women insufficiently prepared?

In the report, the Booz & Company-advisors warn that the women need substantial support to be prepared for entering and succeeding in the global workforce. More than 66 million women are 'not prepared', meaning that they lack sufficient education. Yet they can build on sufficient support from their surroundings. Approximately 130 million women are labeled as 'not enabled', implying they do have the right capabilities yet lack support from their families and/or communities. Alarming is that by far the largest group, 659 million, are neither prepared nor enabled for their entry in the global workforce.

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What do women need?

The consulting firm urges governments and private companies worldwide to proactively prepare for the massive change in their economies and timely address issues such as education, infrastructure, legal matters and other social, cultural and financial constraints.

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