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Women — Shaping the Global Landscape?

What do the world’s female leaders have to say about the process of globalization?

September 22, 2003

What do the world's female leaders have to say about the process of globalization?

Women are playing a central role in contributing to the growth and sustainability of the global economy. This is increasingly true in business and in politics — two realms traditionally dominated by men. In our new Read My Lips feature, some of the global economy’s leading women thinkers lay out their views.

What is globalization?

“Globalization means risk.”

(Tina Rosenberg, New York Times columnist, August 2002)

Madame Secretary, can one be ‘against’ globalization?

“People have accused me of being in favor of globalization. This is equivalent to accusing me of being in favor of the sun rising in the morning.”

(Clare Short, former British Secretary of State for International Development, October 2000)

Are the fruits of globalization available to all?

“It would be wrong to be blind to the economic benefits that globalization has brought to some. The real question is how can we humanize globalization, how can we shape it in such a way that it can benefit all — instead of some.”

(Mary Robinson, former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, September 2000)

Was the decade of globalization just about money?

“The 1990s were not just about globalization of capital: there was the Rio conference in 1992, then a series of negotiations on climate change, forests and biodiversity.”

(Jennifer Block, freelance writer for Thailand’s Nation, February 2003)

What risks come with globalization?

“Polarization rather than progressive globalization is what is in store for the future — unless corrective actions are taken in time.”

(Sri Lanka President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, October 1997)

What is an example of this polarization?

“My 26-year-old daughter in London is earning almost as much money as I do — and she is just working as a secretary.”

(New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, February 2001)

Can you open up your country and at the same time protect your national industry?

“A level playing field does not mean unbridled liberalization.”

(Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, president of the Philippines, May 2001)

How can CEOs help assuage the anxiety brought on by the global economy?

“The CEO of every company — large and small — needs to invest the time to make its employees aware that trade creates far more jobs than it puts at risk. This effort should command the CEO’s attention, ranking right up there with efforts to enhance productivity.”

(Carla Hills, former U.S. trade representative, April 2000)

Can globalization benefit everyone?

“Globalization could be the answer to many of the world’s seemingly intractable problems. But this requires strong democratic foundations based on a political will that ensures equity and justice.”

(Sharan Burrow, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, September 2000)

What role does the IT revolution play?

“Many people see technology as the problem behind the so-called digital divide. Others see it as the solution. Technology is neither. It must operate in conjunction with business, economic, political — and social systems.”

(Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard, April 2001)

How does one succeed in the business world today?

“You shouldn’t have a long-term strategy anymore, because you won’t be able to move fast enough.”

(Orit Gadish, chairman of Bain & Co., April 2001)

Will globalization lead to a better distribution of wealth?

“Despite what the critics may say, it is not inevitable that globalization will lead to inequity — if it does, it is a sign of failure.”

(Gro Harlem Bruntland, former WHO director general, March 2001)

Are women the key decision makers in opening up new markets?

“I go for the women. You sell a policy to a man — and the next day he may come back and ask for a refund because his wife objected. That never happens when I sell to a woman.”

(Female insurance agent working for a U.S. insurance company, April 1995)

Mother Theresa, how did you run your organization?

“When a chairman of a multinational company came to see me, he first asked: ‘Mother, how do you manage your budget?” I asked him who had sent him here. He replied: ‘I felt an urge inside me.’ I said: ‘Other people like you come to see me and ask the same question. You are my budget.’ “

(The late Mother Theresa, Catholic nun)