Ploumen’s visit to World Bank focuses on strengthening women’s rights
The absence or inadequacy of family planning services and other shortfalls in women’s rights cost the world trillions of euros a year. This is the message that foreign trade and development minister Lilianne Ploumen is bringing to the World Bank’s annual meeting from Thursday to Saturday in Washington DC. ‘So it’s high time to do more to give women more rights,’ says the minister. ‘That’s not only the right thing to do; it’s also very wise economics.’
Ms Ploumen’s schedule in Washington will include a speech at the Human Capital Summit, where women’s status will be high on the agenda. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, improving women’s rights could yield as much as $12 trillion in additional economic growth worldwide by 2025. ‘This makes shrinking the gender gap the best possible investment,’ says the minister. ‘Especially in developing countries, the benefits can be huge.’ She points out that knowledge of sexual health and contraception can prevent teenage pregnancies and early school leaving – ‘and each additional year of schooling can raise a woman’s income by as much as 20%’. Child marriage is another example: women caught in child marriage generally earn almost 10% less. In Nigeria alone the difference amounts to $7.6 billion a year.
The next major meeting will be a high-level round table on recovery and resilience in the Caribbean, which will discuss ways in which the World Bank and its member states can help countries and territories rebuild after the widespread destruction caused by hurricane Irma. Ms Ploumen will tell the meeting that the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs stands ready to use its business network to support companies in Curaçao, Aruba and St Maarten so as to facilitate their doing business worldwide. ‘This is how we mean to boost recovery in the Caribbean,’ says the minister. ‘Of course, our focus right now is still on emergency aid. But it’s important at the same time to look to the future.’
This economic partnership will help all the businesses in the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to invest more easily in neighbouring countries. It will for example give them access to extra information on foreign markets and allow them to use the Dutch embassies’ valuable networks. They can also take part in Dutch government trade missions. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) will provide the economic services, applying the rules that are now in effect for Dutch companies.