If China and India each represent 1 billion emerging participants in the global marketplace, then this group; which we will call the “power group” is made up of women, in both developing and industrialized nations, whose economic lives have previously been stunted, underleveraged, or suppressed.
These women, who have been living or contributing at a subsistence level, are now entering the mainstream for the first time. We estimate that about 870 million of them will do so by 2020, with the number conceivably passing 1 billion during the following decade.
Their presence as economic actors will be widely felt, because they have long been overrepresented in the ranks of subsistence agriculture and other resource-based forms of work. As they move into knowledge work, in domains ranging from manufacturing to medicine to education to information technology, their sheer numbers will hasten the integration of the regions where they live into the larger economy.
It is a fact that to date, the potential of women as economic players has been unrealized. Globally, many women could be considered “not prepared” ; others are “not enabled”; and a significant number are both. The specific characteristics of these two major constraints vary widely, according to local social, cultural, and economic conditions.
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