Delegates gathered for a discussion, “Economic Agency and Women’s Leadership,” on Saturday, June 16 with Henrietta Holsman Fore, former Administrator for USAID, and Patricia Sulser, Chief Counselor of International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Fore told delegates about foreign aid, and where most of the money comes from–with governments only accounting for 9%, much of the money comes from private companies or individuals. When the earthquake in Haiti hit, 1 in 10 Americans donated to a charity to help. She also described the work companies and organizations are doing to help women become entrepreneurs– Coca-Cola is giving African women refrigerators for them to sell drinks and make a profit, Morocco has launched a tourism program to grow the number of tourists to Morocco to 18 million tourists by 2020.
Another point brought up was the idea of women’s education and the transfer to the workplace. While many universities all over the world have equal or higher percentages of women than men enrolled, women still do not make up equal percentages of the workplace, especially in managerial positions. One delegate from Iraq explained that while there is education, women do not know the concept of entrepreneurship.
A delegate from Kenya explained her work in opening the first women-owned mechanic shop, teaching women more skills than sewing, which is what is typically shown. However, because she does not inherit land, sons often interhit their parents land, she does not have the collateral to qualify for a loan to invest in her business. “There is microfinance, but I want macro. Women want macro.” Fore said if more women were in the banking industry, they would be the ones looking over applications–and granting loans.
Another delegate brought up the point of the representation of the World Bank and IFC, with representatives for a country often serving more than one–with different political agendas. Fore said to push private organizations more for funds, and Sulser said for the IFC there are local representatives–and told delegates to visit them, and ask them what initiatives delegates could help with.
Anna Quinn Sillers is a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College where she studied Economics and Gender Studies. She is the outgoing Managing Editor of Content for the Mount Holyoke News.