WASHINGTON, DC – In many countries, public debate about gender equality focuses mainly on women's access to top positions and high-powered career opportunities. But the “glass ceiling" is only a small part of the issue. The broader question is whether women have the same opportunities as men to participate in labor markets in the first place. In other words, are women empowered to contribute fully to global economic growth and prosperity?
Unfortunately, the International Monetary Fund's latest study by its staff, “Women, Work, and the Economy," shows that, despite some improvements, progress toward leveling the playing field for women has stalled. This is bad news for everyone, because it translates into lower economic growth – amounting to as much as 27% of per capita GDP in some countries.