Readers: Suzanne McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation, was at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City last month to join a discussion on shared efforts to increase economic opportunities for women worldwide. I’ve asked her to provide an update on progress being made to help women realize their economic potential and to discuss how this can drive economic and social progress in their communities. – Ken
At the recent Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, ExxonMobil hosted an engaging discussion on increasing economic opportunities for women around the world.
We were delighted that Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Cherie Blair joined us to offer their insights on the challenge of developing business leadership and entrepreneurial skills among women of various cultures. We were also fortunate to have NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on hand to moderate. The result was an animated symposium before an audience of leaders from business, government, academia and the NGO community.
This year’s World Bank Report on Gender Equality and Development highlights great progress for women in recent years in terms of rights, education, health and access to jobs and improved livelihoods.
Meanwhile a 2011 World Economic Forum (WEF) study of 135 countries – representing 90 percent of the world’s population – showed significant narrowing of the gap in health and educational attainment separating men and women.
Yet, there is still much to do. That same WEF study noted that a large gap still exists in terms of economic outcomes, like salaries, labor-force participation, and career advancement.
Helping close those gaps is one reason we launched our Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative in 2005, and we are hopeful of our ability to continue to help make a difference.
That’s why I was pleased Andrea Mitchell asked Dr. Rice and Mrs. Blair for their thoughts on how corporations can contribute to multi-sectoral efforts to help women fulfill their economic potential.
“The private sector is playing a bigger role than ever before,” said Dr. Rice. “From building roads and other infrastructure to a host of programs that actively promote women’s economic participation, companies are improving development outcomes in places where they do business.”
Cherie Blair echoed that thought: “The private sector is an integral partner in my foundation’s efforts to advance the interests of women. As one example, with support from ExxonMobil, we were able to conduct research to explore how increased access for women to mobile telephone services can translate directly into enhanced opportunities to improve incomes, livelihoods and economic empowerment in general.”
We are proud to partner with a diverse group of organizations in working to increase economic opportunities and education. By lending our time, expertise and financial support, we look forward to furthering the discussion and spurring progress for women worldwide.