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In his keynote address, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, Robert Hormats, predicted that historians of the future will emphasize two key points when they write the record of our contemporary time: “First, we will see the dramatic rise of emerging economies. Second, the growing role of women.”

Under Secretary Hormats went on to say that the two are decidedly linked. Citing numerous studies that point to women as catalysts and drivers of economic growth, he noted:

“I believe deeply that as women like you gathered here today play stronger roles, you will change the world and this generation. We will not only look back on an era when opportunities were increased for women, but more importantly, we will consider that women used those opportunities to improve the world.”

Stressing the need for private-sector engagement in this work, Under Secretary Hormats said that public-private partnerships are key to sustained growth and progress; in many ways, their value lies in the fact that these partnerships further “demonstrate to governments the value of women,” thereby serving as an impetus for change across sectors.

During an interactive discussion facilitated by Zain Verjee, delegates asked Under Secretary Hormats about a range of issues, including increasing diversity in the boardroom, ensuring women’s access to trade markets, and investing in political training for women engaged at the grassroots level.

In his closing remarks, Under Secretary Hormats spoke to the value that mentorship has had in his life, and how mentorship can further the success of women leaders in Asia:

“I think you cannot underemphasize the value of mentoring. None of us who have succeeded have done so without a mentor.”