What We Know About Women in the Economy Today

Research from the World Bank, the United Nations, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, the Population Reference Bureau, and others demonstrate that the real drivers of the economy are women —as business leaders, employees, consumers, and entrepreneurs. Investing in women can yield a significant boost in economic growth, otherwise known as “the gender dividend.” When women are made the focus in business decisions, communities will thrive around them. [1]

Below are some of the most important statistics available on women in the economy:

  • The average woman spends more than twice as much time on unpaid work as her male counterparts. [2]
  • In developing regions, 1 in 3 women is excluded in economic decision making within their households. Furthermore, elderly women and single mothers are much more likely to be impoverished worldwide. [3]
  • Globally, the average woman only makes between 76 cents for every dollar made by a man. [4]
  • While over 81% of working-age men are employed in the formal sector, this advantage is only true for 54% of women in this age group. [5]
  • Implementing full economic gender parity could add $526 billion to the GDP of Japan and more than $1.2 trillion to that of the United States.  Furthermore, it would likely add $2.5 trillion to China’s GDP by 2020. [6]
  • Women account for over $20 trillion in consumer spending per year and are involved in 80 percent of purchasing decisions worldwide. [7]

Below are some of the most important statistics available on women as business owners:

  • There are approximately 224 million women entrepreneurs worldwide [8] who participate in the ownership of nearly 35% of firms in the formal economy. [9]
  • More women than men entrepreneurs introduce innovations (new products and services) in developed economies. [10]
  • In societies where women perceive they have the capabilities for entrepreneurship, there is a greater likelihood women will also perceive entrepreneurial opportunities. However, fewer women (47.7 percent) than men (62.1 percent) believe they have the capabilities to start and run businesses. [11
  • According to research conducted by WEConnect International, women-owned businesses earn less than 1 percent of the money spent on vendors by large corporations and governments.

Get Started!

Recommended Action Steps

  • Determine market/country to kick-off global program
  • Identify and engage program stakeholders and local company advocates
  • Integrate processes and tools
  • Develop an internal and external communications plan
  • Provide the ability for non-US diverse suppliers to register
  • Leverage certification organizations that can verify business ownership, management and control
  • Identify diverse-owned businesses in current global supply chain
  • Determine non-US diverse spend and establish a baseline
  • Develop annual spend objectives (by country, region, division, etc.)
  • Identify procurement opportunities and engage the organization
  • Measure success
  • Diverse spend
  • Success stories
  • Engage prime suppliers




[1] Belohlav, Kate. "Investing in Women and Girls for a Gender Dividend"The Population Reference Bureau. June 2016. 

[2] "Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016"UN Women. 2016.

[3] "The World's Women 2015: Trends and Statistics"United Nationa Statistics Division. 2015.

[4] "Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016"UN Women. 2016.

[5] "The Global Gender Gap Report 2016"World Economic Forum. 2016.

[6] Ibid.

[7] "The Business Case for Women's Economic Empowerment: An Integrated Approach". Dalberg.com. October 2014.

[8] "GEM 2014 Women's Report"Global Entrepreneurship Research Association. 2014.

[9] "Firms with Female Participation in Ownership"The World Bank. 2017

[10] "The Business Case for Global Supplier Diversity and Inclusion"WEConnect International. 2017.

[11] "GEM 2014 Women's Report"Global Entrepreneurship Research Association. 2014.

[12] Ibid.