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The Third Billion

Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with Melissa Master Cavanaugh of Booz and Company. She is researching a report on what Booz is calling “The Third Billion.” This concept of women as a cross-national population with enormous economic potential is close in spirit to my own idea of the Double X Economy. Booz has already published an article in Strategy + Business explaining their concept. The report now in preparation will be an expansion and, in future years, Booz will do in-depth reports on women in individual nations. So, it seems that another important institution has stepped into awareness of the crucial role women’s economic empowerment will play in building the future.

Though the general Booz statement of concept includes women in various economic roles, the core idea is an outgrowth of labor analysis. The “Third Billion” is an estimate of the number of women who are either “not prepared” or “not enabled” to participate in the global workforce, for a variety of reasons ranging from cultural mores to education. Following a line of thought similar to a 2009 Goldman Sachs report (which in turn reflects the findings of the 2007 UNICEF report on the state of the world’s children), Booz argues for the importance of the movement of the Third Billion into the middle class through improved incomes and women-driven consumption. Improved consumption, as women are included in paid labor and thus can select purchases that benefit children and build middle class human capital, is felt to be a key to national development going forward.

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