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Opinion: Lift up women to lift the world
Women wanting to get loans wait to speak with a representative from a microcredit entity in Sauri, eastern Kenya.
September 25th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Opinion: Lift up women to lift the world

Editor's note: Melanne Verveer is the United States ambassador-at-large for global women's issues and Penny Abeywardena is the head of the Girls and Women program and associate director at the Clinton Global Initiative.

By Melanne Verveer and Penny Abeywardena, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Women have finally arrived.

From Washington to Wall Street to Twitter, writers, academics, and business leaders are pointing to the empowerment of women as key to many of the world's greatest challenges. They're publicizing the research and amplifying hard facts, like the fact that when women have equal access to agricultural resources, 100 million to 150 million fewer people will go hungry.

Or that when women participate equally in the workforce, the GDP in the U.S. the eurozone, and Japan will experience a double-digit spike. And while there's no perfect metric for the popular perception of "girl power," a 2010 Pew study found widespread public support for women's equality in virtually every nation.

The excitement over women's potential and progress is warranted. But there's still a large and disappointing disconnect between research and reality. Girls and women do indeed perform 66% of the work and produce 50% of the world's food. But they earn only 10% of the world's income and own a dismal 1% of its property.

And women everywhere experience less access to credit, training, technology, markets, role models, and protection under the law. Girls and women may keep the world running, but someone else is still running the show.

So if women have indeed "arrived," despite key indicators showing continued widespread inequality, where exactly have they landed? All signs point to girls and women at a tipping point.

Read Melanne Verveer and Penny Abeywardena's full column

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