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Breaking Down the Barriers: Women in Economic and Political Leadership” is the latest feature-length interview done by the Center for International Private Enterprise, one of the four arms of the National Endowment for Democracy. It’s a topic near to my heart, and so is this interview as I am the expert who is featured! The interview touches upon critically important topics: how women’s leadership (and women leaders) contribute to economic, social and political progress; the role of business associations to promote women and business; the importance of women on corporate boards; tools such as quotas, voluntary or otherwise, and supplier diversity to drive change; and the important role of male allies. Many thanks to CIPE and especially Caroline Scullin for this opportunity.

Below is an excerpt from the interview: 

CIPE: What can men do to support women’s political and economic participation?

Stephenie Foster: Men are certainly important allies, and it is extremely important that men be champions for women’s leadership and for promoting women into the types of positions we have been talking about, whether in politics, business, or the non-profit sector. This is not about excluding men; it is about including women and utilizing the best talent we have globally to solve the complex problems we all face. I also believe men should speak up when they witness inequality. This is a big hurdle for the women, and having men speak up can make a real difference.

CIPE: How have you seen women in positions of economic or political power benefit their communities?

Foster: My personal experience has reflected that women make a difference in politics and business and I am glad that the research reflects that as well! We see that women in elected office make a difference in terms of public policy, democratic governance and constituent services, and leadership. A legislator’s gender has an impact on his or her policy priorities, so that as more women serve in office, there tends to be an increased focus on issues traditionally crucial in women’s family lives (education, health care) but also in issues that affect women’s daily lives, such as water and infrastructure.

Read the full interview.

Cross-posted with permission from Stephenie Foster, strategist and consultant for Vital Voices.