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Ivanka Trump urges India to boost women in workplace

Advisor to the US President Ivanka Trump speaks during the Global Entrepreneurship Summmit at the Hyderabad convention centre (HICC) in Hyderabad on November 28, 2017. The Global Entrepreneurship Summmit will take place from 28th to 30th of November. / AFP PHOTO / MONEY SHARMA

Ivanka Trump urged India on Tuesday to close its yawning gender gap in the job market, telling a business summit in her biggest foreign mission yet that this would bring huge economic benefits.

President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter urged India to seize the untapped potential in women in a speech before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and business leaders in Hyderabad.

India is one of the world’s fastest growing major economies but also has one of the lowest rates of female employment, a trend that has worsened over the last decade.

The World Bank has warned that the country must reverse a trend of falling women’s participation in jobs if it is to achieve its ambition of double-digit growth.

“Just consider, if India closes the labour force gender gap by half, your economy could grow by over $150 billion dollars in the next three years,” Trump told the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

“I encourage everyone here today to come together, to learn from each other, and to find new ways to lift the barriers in our societies so that women are free to innovate.”

Female participation in India’s workforce has declined since 2007, particularly in rural areas.

Women remain in education for longer, but even college-educated women are staying out of the workplace — just 34 percent of those with a degree are working, the World Bank reported in May.

It said India’s female labour force participation rate was “uniquely low” for all levels of education.

Trump, without directly referring to India, lamented inequitable laws and cultural pressures that in some countries prevent women from working or travelling freely.

The 36-year-old White House adviser is in India promoting women’s empowerment in business and underscoring the growing friendship between the United States and the South Asian powerhouse.

She will attend a gala dinner on Tuesday with Modi, who referenced ancient Hindu philosophy, high court judges and India’s space programme when touting the contribution of women to the nation of 1.25 billion.

“Indian women continue to lead in different walks of life,” he told delegates gathering for the three-day summit.

“We have provided for not less than one third of women representation in rural and urban local bodies, ensuring women’s participation in grassroot-level decision-making. More than sixty percent of workers in our agriculture and allied sectors are women.”

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