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World Bank Group Private Sector Leaders Forum Announces New Measures to Improve Women’s Economic Opportunities

Press Release No:2010/084/PREM


In Washington: Alejandra Viveros 1 (202) 473-4306 


ISTANBUL, October 4, 2009 –World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick and Managing Director Ngozi N. Okonjo-Iweala met today with global business leaders in order to continue expanding economic opportunities for women worldwide. At an event co-hosted by the Hüsnü M. Özyeǧin Foundation in the margins of the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, the leaders discussed the impacts of the ongoing economic crisis on women, and announced new partnerships to support women around the world.


“At this time of economic turmoil, investing in women is critical,” said Mr. Zoellick at the meeting. “A host of studies suggest that putting earnings in women’s hands is the intelligent thing to do to aid recovery and long-term development. Women usually reinvest a much higher portion of their earnings in their families and communities than men, spreading wealth beyond themselves.”

In the meeting of the global Private Sector Leaders Forum, comprised of 21 companies committed to promote women's economic empowerment, the leaders talked about the need to protect women from the adverse effects of the economic crisis, and shared experiences on successful programs designed to support women’s economic opportunities in key areas, such as targeted lending programs; inclusion and diversity initiatives to promote women into corporate leadership roles; and the training of business women in developing countries.

Highlights of new partnerships and initiatives announced at the event include:


-          The Ozyegin Foundation and Goldman Sachs will expand the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program to Turkey.

-          Boeing announced Forum member efforts to track and spend $2 billion over the next three years on goods and services from women-owned businesses in supply chains.

-          Belcorp announced a partnership with the World Bank to train 50,000 women in financial literacy in Latin America.

-          McKinsey presented their new research, “The Business of Empowering Women,” which maps out potential business sector contributions across women’s life cycles. 


According to the participants, these initiatives are crucial as the world sets about rebuilding economies around the world. Research shows that during economic crises, girls are the most likely to be withdrawn from school and be put to work to help their families. And adult women face the risk of suffering disproportionately from the jobs lost since they constitute between 60 and 80 percent of export manufacturing workers in developing countries, a sector expected to shrink due to fall in demand.


“Women and girls need to be protected because they are suffering disproportionately from the economic recession,” said World Bank Managing Director, Ngozi N. Okonjo-Iweala. “But more importantly, women can be the engine for recovery. If done right, we can emerge from the crisis with healthier growth and be on a faster track to reducing poverty and boosting development."   Investing in improving women’s lives is critical,”

The Private Sector Leaders Forum is a public-private partnership between the World Bank Group and some of the world's leading private sector companies. The partnership supports the World Bank Group’s Gender Action Plan to promote women's economic empowerment and gender equality.

Launched in January 2008 during the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Forum is comprised of:

  • Eduardo Belmont, President, Belcorp
  • Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
  • Henryka Bochniarz, Vice President of Boeing International and President of Boeing Central and Eastern Europe, Boeing
  • Frank J. Brown, Dean, INSEAD
  • John T. Chambers, Chairman & CEO, Cisco
  • Kristin Clemet, Chair, Company: Norfund
  • Samuel A. DiPiazza, CEO, Company: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
  • Rick Goings, Chairman and Chief Executive, Tupperware Brands Corporation
  • Kevin L. Kelly, CEO, Heidrick & Struggles
  • Sung-joo Kim, Chairperson & CEO, Sungjoo Group/MCM Group
  • Yang Lan, CEO, Sun Media Investment Holdings LTD
  • Wendy Luhabe, Founding Member, Women Private Equity Fund
  • Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chair, Carlson
  • Hüsnü M. Özyeǧin, President, Hüsnü M. Özyeǧin Foundation
  • Lynn Taliento, Partner, Washington DC Office, McKinsey & Co.
  • Elena Viyella de Paliza, President, Grupo Inter-Quimica, S.A. Monte Rio Power Corp.
  • Nitin Paranjpe, CEO and MD of the Hindustan Unilever Ltd & Group Vice President of Unilever in South Asia
  • Mark Parker, President & CEO, Nike
  • James S. Turley, Chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young
  • Mona Zulficar, Senior Partner and Chair of the Executive Committee, Shalakany Law Office





To get more information on the World Bank’s work on gender, please visit:   

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