In this edition of the Brief from Brussels: Euronews met with World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva as the EU Development Days kicked off to find out why gender equality would make us all financially better off.
Around the world, gender inequality has a cost, not just to the women excluded from the workplace or trapped beneath the glass ceiling. The potential loss in earnings has an astronomical economic impact on all countries.
Euronews - Efi Koutsokosta
Where are we standing now in Europe regarding the position of women?
World Bank CEO - Kristalina Georgieva
Where we are is not where we ought to be. Gender equality is still an aspiration and not a reality, even in rich countries... The world has a $160 trillion less wealth because of the fact that women don't participate fully in the labour force, in the labour market, and they are not paid equal to men.
I heard Christine Lagarde from the IMF, one year ago, that she was saying mentioning Japan and she was saying: "if you don't improve the position of women in the labour market, then you have to accept and receive migrants", because of demographic reasons.
Same thing in Europe, same issue in Europe. We are an ageing region and of course if we do not expand participation of women in the labour market, we are losing in terms of our capacity to meet the demands of our economy. And of course we will have to compensate with more migration.
What should European countries or the EU do in order to gain in GDP via women?
It is not really brain surgery, make sure that girls are in school and that they learn the same things as boys learn, they learn maths, they are ready to accept positions in science. When they leave, make sure that they have equal access to finance, so open up more opportunities for women to become entrepreneurs and when they are entrepreneurs that there are gender sensitive instruments to support them so that they can succeed.
What is the problem in Europe?
When you talk to women, they uniformly say two things. One, that they need more support systems in terms of dealing with young families, in particular when they have young kids. Second, women say access to finance and entrepreunerial support and recognition that women can lead in business. That turns to another very heated debate here in Europe on quotas for women and my view based on evidence...
Do you agree with that?
I absolutely agree. We don't have quotas, it could take us decades, if not centuries to reach gender equality.