Female adults cannot perform basic tasks in some nations, says the secretary of state
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2011
Giving women equal access to the tools of business -- including the right to sign contracts, borrow money and open bank accounts -- will go a long way to expanding the economies of the Asia-Pacific region, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a gathering of CEOs from some of the world's biggest companies Friday at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel.
Prime ministers of Singapore and Australia as well as presidents of the Philippines, Vietnam and Peru also participated in the CEO Summit, which largely focused on economic relations and opportunities among 21 nations represented by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation assembly being held this week on Oahu.
Clinton took the opportunity to raise awareness about restrictions women face participating in economic growth in parts of the Asia-Pacific region.
She said women in some countries can't independently open bank accounts, incorporate businesses, sign contracts or file lawsuits. Women also face higher interest rates and shorter loan terms for credit, which Clinton said are other discriminatory barriers hurting not only women, but also businesses and global economic growth.
"When women enjoy greater access to jobs, top positions ... there is a ripple effect," she said.
Women's rights have long been an issue championed by Clinton, though much of the emphasis more recently has shifted from human rights to economic rights.
Clinton said the private sector needs to advance women in the workplace and can also push to end government regulations that discriminate against women.
"It's not only, in our view, the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do," she said.
Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said it is great to have Clinton in Hawaii and speaking to global business leaders. "She's opening doors and opening eyes and hearts -- bringing the world together."
Clinton was asked about her future job aspirations, and she suggested her next position might not be in government or business. "I don't have a dream job; I have a dream vacation," she said.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino addressed competition among countries for energy, food and other commodities.
The CEO Summit has been held since 1996 as a counterpart to APEC meetings among government and economic policymakers.
Friday's event kicked off with two performers blowing conch shells and the delivery of a long chant and blessing by a Hawaiian spiritual leader, or kahu.
Craig Mundie, Microsoft Corp. chief research and strategy officer, delivered the first "aloha" to the group of close to 1,000 mostly business leaders from around the world, including close to 50 from Hawaii.