01/23/2014 12:44 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2014

Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Global Development

Over the next decade, nearly 1 billion women will enter the global workforce. This could be great for the world. If these 1 billion women are allowed to apply their ingenuity and skills and talent to their fullest extent, they will make everybody's lives better.

This is my hope as I look out at the next 10 years. As women and girls gain education, improve their health, and are empowered to make decisions in their own households, they become engines of development, especially in poor countries.

To take just one example, women in sub-Saharan Africa do a majority of the farm work. Yet, many agricultural development programs are designed to reach male farmers. As a result women farmers get significantly smaller yields than men. This makes no sense when you think about the fact that women are typically in charge of feeding their families.

Fixing problems like these doesn't have to be complicated. For example, women farmers need information to help them get the most out of their farms, and it's not always clear how to get it to them. We have partners who are working to include farming advice in the radio programs women are already listening to.

In global development, experts have known about the importance of women and girls for years. This knowledge hasn't always translated into policies or programs that put power in women's hands so they can drive the change they want for themselves and their families. If it does, the next decade will see a burst of economic, human, and social development.