Public-Private Partnerships to Promote Women's Economic Empowerment:
The Multiplier Effect

Speaker Amanda Ellis, Lead Specialist, World Bank Group Gender Action Plan
Opening Remarks by Hon. Henrietta Holsman Fore,
Former USAID Administrator and Director of US Foreign Assistance
Photos | Transcript

Washington, DC—On June 10, 2010, the Women's Foreign Policy Group hosted a program with Amanda Ellis, who spoke on "Public-Private Partnerships to Promote Women's Economic Empowerment: The Multiplier Effect." Ms. Ellis is the Lead Specialist for the World Bank Group Gender Action Plan, and she has played an integral role in the planning and implementation of many of these partnerships. She will leave the World Bank at the end of June 2010 to serve as Deputy Secretary in the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she will head the country's development assistance program.

Gender equality is smart economics, Ms. Ellis explained, citing various programs in which she witnessed the success of the public-private partnership model. When the goal of women's economic empowerment is understood as an addendum, rather than an impediment, to future growth, a company puts itself in a "win-win" situation. Empowering women is smart business; public-private partnerships, she stressed, drive business in the long-term, and empowering women entrepreneurs can be a critical tool for development. Finally, she stressed the importance of innovative leadership, highlighting World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who made women's issues a priority for the organization. As a result, the World Bank adopted corporate social responsibility as a mainstay of its culture.

Ms. Ellis described the "multiplier effect" that can follow once these key elements are in place. United by shared goals, partners become connected in powerful "multiplex" relationships that enable greater collaboration and foster the stability of these programs. As knowledge sharing increases, the model continues to be fine-tuned, and Ms. Ellis was enthusiastic about the results thus far.

During the Q&A period, Ms. Ellis described the "extraordinary" support of male CEOs in pushing for gender equality. With this commitment, Ms. Ellis was optimistic about the broader implications of public-private partnerships in terms of development. It is logical for companies to engage with women, given their new purchasing power, and research shows that money in women's hands is more likely to be spent on health, nutrition, and girl's education, potentially revitalizing whole communities.

Finally, Ms. Ellis observed the major role that women are beginning to play in peacekeeping and conflict resolution. She noted that some governments are starting to put women on the security agenda, "including women not only as victims, but as having a seat at the [policymaking] table."


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Speaker Amanda Ellis,
WFPG President Patricia Ellis,
WFPG Board Member Hon. Henrietta Holsman Fore,
WFPG Board Member Donna Constantinople
  WFPG Board Member Hon. Henrietta Holsman Fore,
Speaker Amanda Ellis
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A member of the audience asks a question during Q&A   WFPG President Patricia Ellis,
Ambassador Glenda Morean Phillip (Trinidad and Tobago)
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