February 11, 2019

Former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joined world leaders to applaud the United States on its latest effort to advance women’s empowerment, globally, through the newly launched Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative.

“I commend the efforts of the US Administration to focus on women’s economic development and entrepreneurship,” President Johnson Sirleaf said.  “This bipartisan effort to remove the social and legal barriers to female participation, increase access to vocational training, and fuel the entrepreneurial spirit is laudable and needed on all corners of the globe.”

The W-GDP was launched Thursday by President Donald  J. Trump and White House Special Adviser Ivanka Trump at the White House. The White House-led government interagency program is aimed at improving women’s economic empowerment through work development, providing access to capital for women entrepreneurs and removing legal and social barriers that prevents women’s full participation in the economy.

Underscoring the importance of women’s full participation in their nation’s economy, International Monetary Fund, Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, said in a statement in support of the W-GDP Initiative, which can play a key role in helping to advance women’s economic integration into the economy. “Helping women overcome the barriers they face and make the most of their potential is a global priority. IMF research finds that empowering women is also good for the economy—it boosts growth, makes economies more resilient, and reduces income inequality. I very much welcome the launch of the W-GDP Initiative,” Ms. Lagarde said.

United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, added that the U.S.’s efforts to advance economic opportunities for women throughout the world is commendable and urged  all governments to “make women’s empowerment a central policy priority for global communities and economies to thrive and society to achieve important steps towards gender parity and sustainable development.” 

Kristalina Georgieva, Interim President of the World Bank Group and Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank, who was in attendance during the W-GDP’s launch ceremony said, “When women start businesses they create jobs, pay taxes and invest in their families. And yet around the world they face more obstacles than men. We must work together to knock down those barriers.  The World Bank Group fully subscribes to the aspirations of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, to give women entrepreneurs a real and fair chance for success, especially in the small and medium-size businesses that provide most of the jobs in the developing world.”

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO, United Nations Foundation also said in a statement that, “Investing in women entrepreneurs is a clear and powerful tool for lifting societies out of poverty, and the structural, legal and social barriers that undermine women and their potential have to be addressed fully.  This initiative has identified discriminatory laws as a key barrier to women’s entrepreneurship and it will be vital to prioritize efforts to understand and dismantle them.”

One of the W-GDP Initiative’s founding partners from the private sector, United Percel Service Chairman and CEO, David Abney, said his company is proud to partner with the White House on the new initiative to advocate for diversity and inclusion of more women to engage in global trade.“In the rapidly evolving world economy, we know that investing in women is not only the right thing to do—it’s a smart business decision, too,” said Mr. Abney. 

Another founding partner, Johnson and Johnson, Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO  said women are the catalysts for creating healthier communities and improving the health of millions of people around the world and the societal benefits that accompany women’s economic empowerment are clear and undeniable. “Such public private partnerships [as W-GDP] have the promise to change lives in the United States and abroad.”

Other partners includes Walmart, Proctor & Gamble, and General Dynamic