Labour Market Needs Women Because They Drive GDP Growth Says Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), says employing women is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do.

In a blog post, the former finance minister of France said employing women leads to significant economic growth, raising gross domestic product (GDP) appreciably.

“At his swearing-in ceremony last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked why he had appointed a gender-balanced cabinet, a first for Canada (and for most countries around the world). He replied ‘Because it’s 2015,’” she wrote.

“He was right, of course, and his response demonstrated his government’s clear commitment to gender equality. But there is another important reason for promoting greater female participation in the workforce: women in jobs are good for growth.

“IMF studies have shown significant macroeconomic gains when women are able to participate more fully in the labour market.”

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She said if a country like Canada increases women employment by one percentage point, it would lead to a 0.4 percentage point increase in GDP.

“So, if the current gap of 7 percentage points between male and female labour force participation were eliminated, the level of real GDP could be about 4½ percent higher today.

“Bold decisions are needed to change corporate cultures and shift social norms — for example, by providing incentives for women’s representation on corporate boards or reforming the current parental leave system so that more fathers are willing to take leave.

“Prime Minister Trudeau recently tweeted ‘poverty is sexist’. Canada can grow its economy and improve prospects for all Canadian women, especially the poorest, by boosting their participation in the labor force. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”

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