Background Briefing Prior to the Secretary's Visit to Lima
MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. Just to take a few minutes of your time, we’ll do a backgrounder with two Senior Administration Officials. So you know who they are, we have [Senior Administration Official One], and we have [Senior Administration Official Two]. She’ll be giving you a good preview as well. So we’ll just, again, spend a few minutes. [Senior Administration Official One] will talk, then [Senior Administration Official Two], and then we’ll take any of your questions.
So with that, let me turn it over to the first Senior Administration Official.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Good morning. Thanks for coming along today. We think this is a great opportunity to go down to Peru and see what is happening in that country. There’s a Social Inclusion Conference. President Humala has made it one of his trademarks to focus on socially inclusive growth. This is kind of the first fruits of that effort, this international conference, to sort of talk about the ways and means of going about that.
Humala has proven to be a good partner for us, both in this area, which is, of course, very important to us in the Administration, but also on the citizen security side. There are citizen security challenges which remain in Peru and President Humala is doing his best to address those, and we’re trying to be helpful in that regard. The big picture in the hemisphere, we have the four policy goals: socially inclusive growth, energy partnerships, citizen security, and working on the institutionality of democratic governance. So this sort of hits on all of those themes.
I think I’ll leave it there and ask [Senior Administration Official Two] to jump in with the socially inclusive forum.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: The summit that’s taking place tomorrow (inaudible) partly sponsored by the Government of Peru, the State Department, and the Inter-American Development Bank. The focus on women as driving economic growth is obviously a very critical topic today, because there isn’t a country that doesn’t want to drive growth and create jobs. And there is a mountain of research that is itself growing, from the World Economic Forum to the private sector to large numbers of studies from the World Bank, et cetera, that show that women are accelerators of economic growth, particularly women-run small and medium-sized businesses. This focus on SMEs as the missing middle as one of the key areas that needs to be accelerated is a large focus of this conference as well.
Now this fits more broadly with what the Secretary has been trying to do, focusing on the women’s piece, recognizing that no country is going to get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind. And women’s participation in the economic workforce and as entrepreneurs is critical to countries’ economic growth and stability. She has focused on this from her seminal speech at APEC, where this issue was put on the agenda. For APEC last year in San Francisco, she laid out the case, and the San Francisco declaration that was adopted by APEC and its leadership, including Peru, Mexico, Chile, the United States, Canada in this hemisphere focuses on the need to enable women to overcome the hurdles that they confront as entrepreneurs.
And those hurdles are the lack of training, mentoring, networks that they need to start and grow businesses, access to markets, and significantly, access to capital, to the financing they need. At Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas, the Secretary announced the WEAmericas Initiative. That is a significant public-private partnership that includes IDB, the United States Government, Walmart, and other private sector companies focusing on these areas of need, closing the gap, both in helping connect entrepreneurs to the markets, the supply chain of big companies – because that’s a major way they can grow their business – as well as providing training and access to finance, largely through IDB efforts.
In this conference, she will announce additional supports through the establishment of a new entrepreneurship trust that the United States and others are contributing to, and will call on other governments to participate. This is a regional summit, and the initial support coming out of the trust will go to Peru and to El Salvador. She will also announce another initiative on women’s leadership. As you know, these countries, as part of inclusion, have got to make life better for the largely indigenous populations. And one of the things that she will do after her speech tomorrow is go out into the Gamarra district with the First Lady of Peru, who’s been very active in this area, to see how indigenous women coming in from the rural areas have created vibrant economic activity.
One of the things we see in this region is a growth in women’s economic participation. Over the last decade, there’s been some 15 percent growth in women’s economic activity, which the World Bank correlates to the fact that poverty would be 30 percent higher were it not for that economic activity.
So we’re talking about something that has very significant stakes for Peru, for the region, and has been something that the Secretary’s been very actively pushing around the world from APEC to Africa, with the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, to Pathways in South America, which is what we’ve been doing to enable women to take greater advantage of our trade agreements. So there’s been a lot of work in this area and this is one more step towards moving it forward.
MODERATOR: All right. With that, we have some time for questions.
QUESTION: Sorry. Did you say 15 or 50?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: One five.
QUESTION: One five. Okay, thank you very much.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Are we all good?
QUESTION: So it’s just regional?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think we’re all good.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: We’re around so --
QUESTION: You said IDB is sponsoring --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Inter-American Development? Yeah, they’re one of the cosponsors. Significant focus on financial inclusion.
QUESTION: We often (inaudible) El Salvador where further to expect to expand the new entrepreneur trust to.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: There are any number of countries are benefiting already from the WEAmericas Initiative. So as the resources become available, it will continue to grow.
QUESTION: Is this something that is likely to beyond Latin America, move towards Asia or maybe Africa?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Well, there are many programs that are already – Africa Women’s Entrepreneurship Program is a very robust program that’s ongoing. And then there are programs specific to Asia, but there’s a big thrust in this area, recognizing how critical it is for growth.
QUESTION: In the Secretary’s address tomorrow, are you expecting her to take a broader view of her achievements on the women’s piece as you call it? Or is it going to be --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: I think she’s going to focus a lot on this whole economic arena.
QUESTION: Okay. Only this specific --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Because it’s broad enough and significant.
QUESTION: Well, what other leaders are going to be there, other than the President?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: From Peru, I know that there’s a very dynamic Minister of Social Affairs who has been --
QUESTION: No, I mean from other countries.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: I don’t know who all is coming. Do you know?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: We don’t know. We can get that for you. Sorry. Don’t know; can get.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: We’ll get it for you.
QUESTION: If – well, is she going to be – is there a possibility that she might be meeting with other foreign ministers or leaders?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Like other leaders? We know she’s got the bilat tonight with the President of Peru. I don’t know what others.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: President Humala. Humala’s the only --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Humala’s the only bilat we have scheduled right now.
QUESTION: Right. But I mean is there a chance if the Venezuelans show up or Bolivians or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. That sounds right.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t know if there’s Venezuelans there. It’s kind of a hypothetical. Don’t know.
QUESTION: Are any of these people expected to come?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Are they expected to come?
QUESTION: Are any --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: As I said, I don’t know what other participation is, so we’ll try to get that for you.
QUESTION: There isn’t a program?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t know what other participation is.
QUESTION: No, there’s not a program.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I can get – that’s what we’re working.
QUESTION: What has spurred the growth – the 15 percent growth over the last decade?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Mostly a combination of work – greater workforce participation and some entrepreneurship.
QUESTION: So these are policies that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: It’s moving more women into the workforce. It’s a --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: (Inaudible) the factors is a greater focus on the part of governments.
QUESTION: As laborers or small business owners?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Both. Both. Both.
QUESTION: And these policies that have been put in place by the governments in question?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yes. I think the region is at the 50 percent mark – 50 percent women from the region in the formal work place. So it’s trending – the trending is right. The trending is hopeful.
QUESTION: What percentage are women actually the entrepreneurs and the heads of companies in Peru?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: I don’t – heads of companies is very small every place.
QUESTION: [Senior Administration Official Two], how would characterize the, like, social support network in Latin America? There’s been so much praise of what’s happening elsewhere in Europe --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Right. Both in terms of education and training, one of the things the Social Minister in Peru has become very well known for is trying to create that social infrastructure so that women can then take off through the private sector. So there’s been a greater focus on the need to do that.
QUESTION: Child care?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Specifically, I think to some degree it is certainly an issue. I don’t know how successfully – this government is relatively new, and she is relatively new at the job. But they are very mindful that they really have to address these issues significantly.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: And I would just note that one of the things about the region is that they tend to have very socially advanced constitutions, so there are embedded rights in this regard, which in the past haven’t been very well respected. And so what Humala is doing, what Lula before Dilma did in Brazil is doing, is trying to make real these commitments.
And of course part of it is the kinds of things that you’re talking about – childcare, making it possible for women to join the workforce in a way which protects – that takes care of their other responsibilities. Part of it is doing what – just a socially inclusive growth per se. In the last eight years, there have been 40 million people moved into the middle class in Brazil. This is moving people into the productive part of the economy, where they can go out and consume and have a better life for their families, which is the best solution of all.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: This part of the world has been very innovate in terms of the social construct – particularly giving women control of resources coming from the state with specific targets for education for example. And you see the payoffs in Brazil, you see the payoffs in Mexico, in terms of building the middle class. So there’s been a lot of innovation, and I think Peru is trying to move in this same direction.