Deauville Women’s Forum Global Meeting, Sodexo Reception


Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the Reception hosted by Sodexo on the eve of the Deauville Women's Forum Global Meeting


14 October 2014, Paris, France
(As prepared for delivery)




Ambassador García-López, Ambassador Péréz-Jacome, Monsieur Landel, Distinguished Members of the Mexican Delegation to the Women’s Forum, Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am delighted to join you to celebrate the advancement of women in society and economic activity, on the eve of the 10th anniversary meeting of the Women’s Forum in Deauville.


Let me first of all thank Monsieur Landel for his kind words and for his invitation to co-host this evening’s reception. It is a great pleasure to engage with you in a key debate on leadership for a more equitable world.


Allow me also to highlight the leading and inspiring role of our partners - Sodexo and the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society - in fostering diversity and inclusion. They are both passionate advocates for the participation of women in our economies, in our public policies, our decisions, and our social progress.



For several years now, Sodexo has been an important partner of the OECD on the Better Life Initiative This unique project helps us better understand and measure what drives the well-being of individuals and societies, and to advise policymakers on what needs to be done to achieve greater, more equitable progress for all.


This year, by signing the institutional partnership with the Women’s Forum, the OECD is accelerating its efforts to promote gender diversity. I am confident that working hand-in-hand, we will do much more to close the gender gap for good. 


On a more personal note, I am delighted that in this first year of partnership with the Women’s Forum, I have the privilege to welcome a delegation of remarkable women that are making a difference for my own country, Mexico.



Felicidades a todas! Your contribution to Mexico’s economy, society and culture is truly inspiring. With dignity and vision, you are transforming Mexico by carrying the message that gender equality is an imperative, not an option. It is a must at school, at work and at home, not only true for Mexico, but for all countries.



Let me give you just one telling example: We estimate that on average, across the OECD, a 50% reduction in the gender gap in labour force participation can lead to an additional gain in GDP of about 6% by 2030, with a further 6% gain (12% in total) if complete convergence occurs.



The world’s growth prospects depend heavily on how well countries develop and use the skills and talents of women.



The results of the PISA 2012 evaluations show that girls outperform boys in reading and have higher career aspirations, even if they still have fewer opportunities than men. While girls and boys performed similarly in science, this does not yet translate into equal representation in science and technology jobs.


The skills of women are not being utilised to their full potential, and this harms our growth prospects. And we are not just talking about economic prospects. Equal participation by women fosters more equitable societies and increases our wellbeing across the board.



Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:


As we work together to boost the participation of women in our economies and societies, let’s keep these words by the 1960s writer Gloria Steinem in our minds: “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” All good economists are feminists. We can only build a strong economy if we have an equitable, representative labour force.



I encourage you to use the next three days of debate to show how this can be done in practice. Let’s turn ideas into policies, commitments into action. That will help us to narrow the gender gap, and to empower women to thrive in a stronger, more inclusive world economy.




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