Clinton: Women are the key to economic growth

Clinton calls women key to global economic growth
September 16, 2011 7:54:58 PM PDT
The most powerful woman in the Obama administration packed the house in San Francisco Friday morning. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to a gathering of foreign diplomats and business leaders at an economic summit and she says the key to global economic growth is very simple -- it's women.

At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on women in the economy, Clinton urged her audience -- made up of mostly women -- to strip away the barriers that women face and everyone will benefit.

"Because when everyone has a chance to participate in the economic life of a nation, we can all be richer," said Clinton.

Clinton cited a Goldman Sachs report that said lowering barriers for women in the workforce would raise the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, by 9 percent.

"It would increase the Eurozone by 13 percent and they need it and Japan's by 16 percent," said Clinton.

Clinton said it'll take time and concerted effort, but increasing participation for women will raise the productivity and the economies of nations.

"This is the beginning of a very promising future for us all. Thank you very much," said Clinton.

Clinton got a standing ovation and one of the women in the audience knows first-hand what barriers women face, both in this country and outside the county. Nancy Charraga owns this a small gift shop in the Mission District. She grew up in Southern Mexico near the Guatemala border and came to the U.S. specifically because she knew that owning her own business back home would never happen.

"The obstacles are so much more intense in Mexico. We have to deal with quite a bit of corruption," said Charraga.

She says listening to Clinton, the part of the speech that resonated was Clinton's challenge to take bold steps.

"And that's is really what it's going to take and I think I'm very inspired about the road ahead," said Charraga.

Clinton got rave reviews and not just for the speech, but for her performance as secretary of state.

"I can best quote my husband George Shultz, former Secretary of State, and he think she's done a marvelous job," said Charlotte Shultz.

"She's knocked the socks off everybody all around the world. I mean she's smart, she's poised, she's strategic," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose.

The Bay Area Business Council was one of the summit's sponsors and Jim Wonderman is the council's president.

Matthews: Considering the way the economy is going, do you think Democrats, maybe in this room, are thinking, "We put up the wrong nominee?"
Wonderman: "Well, this isn't really a day to touch on American politics as much as it is to think about the role women play here in the United States and globally."

That was Wonderman's diplomatic answer at Friday's gathering of diplomats and Democrats, many of whom I suspect would put Hillary Clinton's job approval numbers, somewhere north of the president's.

Clinton was forced to make the speech later than was planned Friday morning because the large crowd took a little bit longer than expected to get through security. Her appearance put an exclamation point to what is being called the single most influential gathering of women. Women came from as far away as Indonesia to be at the event.

"She is encouraging us to do something for women empowerment to stick in our eyes, to stick in our mind - that we have to do something - and as women yes we can," said Moza Pramita of Indonesia.

Clinton's speech did not shy away from the obstacles blocking women around the world.

"There is a web of legal and social restrictions that limit their potential or they are confronted with a glass ceiling that keeps them from the most senior positions," said Clinton.

She listed several goals for the audience, including a commitment to give women access to capital and for the support of women in politics and business. Members of the crowd said they were eager to go out and execute.

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