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Good Afternoon!

It is great to be among friends and kindred spirits.

The 21st century poses many challenges that require new ways of thinking. None of them is more important than the economic role of women in a quickly changing world. But women today remain blocked from contributing their true potential. This has a huge cost. In some countries, the per capita income is very low because women are not given equal opportunity. They are half the world’s population. But their economic contribution is far less than 50%. We have to change this situation. For empowering women, I suggest three Ls – Learning, Labour and Leadership.

Education is the foundation on which any change is built. Learning helps women to help themselves and break free of the chains with which they are bound. This is more necessary in the developing world. In Africa, there is a common saying: “If you educate a boy, you train a man. If you educate a girl, you train a village.”

Labour is the second step. Labour helps women to flourish and achieve their true potential. Unfortunately today, even when women work, they are often limited to jobs where the pay, status and security are low. Globally, women earn only % as much as men, even when they have similar education and similar jobs. One of our important ideas should be “equal pay for equal work”. Researches show that removing the gender inequality in economic participation can bring an increase in the per capita income.

Women can be given more opportunities in the work place. There is a need to change our laws to ensure that property and inheritance laws do not discriminate against women. Education and healthcare for women should be encouraged. Women should be given more credit facilities so that they can get greater economic independence.

The 3rd L is leadership. It enables women to rise and full their inborn abilities and talents. A lot can be done here. Sometimes women make better leaders than men. Women tend to make decisions based on consensus building, inclusion, compassion and sustainability. It is true that sometimes women lack the confidence to match their competence. They have to change their mindset. They should be ready to “dare the difference”, to take risk and step outside their comfort zones. But they face a lot of barriers. These barriers are seen even when we talk about giving primary education for girls in a village forgiving executive positions to women in business.

It is time to create a world where all women can grow to their potential. The world will reap the benefits. The three Ls will help us to get there. 

If we dare the difference, the difference will deliver.

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