UN Women Exec. Dir. Michelle Bachelet and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visit a textile production and trade center in Lima, Peru. Photo: UN Women
Restrictions on women’s participation in business and the labor force are costing “massive amounts” of economic growth and income around the world and slowing the recovery says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Making it easier for women to enter the labor market could increase GDP as much as 9 percent in the U.S. and 13 percent in the Eurozone, she said. In the Asia Pacific, she said, restrictions on women result in more than $40 billion in lost GDP every year.

“More than 100 countries have laws restricting women’s economic participation,” Clinton said while speaking at a women’s conference in Lima, Peru.

Clinton said the difficulties for women to participate in the economy and to start business comes down to four major reasons:

One, women still lack access to the education and business training that every entrepreneur needs. Two, women still have more difficulty accessing markets for their products. Three, it is still harder for women to get financing because banks traditionally require credit histories or collateral that most women may not have. And four, women often lack the networks, mentors, and leadership opportunities critical for business success.

In the U.S., women-owned businesses contribute nearly $3 trillion to our economy, and they are growing at more than double the rate of all firms, Clinton said. If these trends hold, women entrepreneurs will generate more than 5 million jobs over the next six years.

Read Secretary Clinton’s full speech here.