Women responding to the downturn

A GUEST POST BY WENDY ALEXANDERThe global slowdown has arrested women’s economic advance globally. Yet, for the first time, there are women in government in many nations able to do something about it.

Women’s earnings in the UK contribute 32% of household income, in France, 28%, and in Germany, 29%. In developing countries, women’s economic activity is key to protecting children from poverty. And even where men are more likely to lose their job, it is women who are most worried about the downturn; its impact on their job, their husband’s job and their childrens’ prospects. So it is both simplistic and wrong to say men worry about the economy and women do not!

Compared with any previous downturn women are also more influential in shaping government policy. In the EU we now have 140 women ministers in Government. Germany has its first woman Chancellor and half the Spanish Cabinet are women. In the UK we have, a woman leading the Department for Work and Pensions and women ministers in all the key economic departments the Treasury and the Department of Business as well as a Government Office for Equality. The US has a woman heading the State Department, a woman Secretary for Labour and the House of Representatives has its first woman speaker. In the developing world, Mozambique has a female Prime Minister and the Philipines, a second female President.

In the early noughties, as Scotland’s Enterprise Minister when global contraction hit our electronics sector I was able to champion Women into Business programmes to support women entrepreneurs, Women in IT initiatives, and new childcare initiatives for women returning to college.

So almost a decade later with many more women leaders in key positions to influence the reponse to the downturn – are we networking them well enough – a subject I will return to in my next post!

Networking women leaders

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