IMF Head Christine Lagarde Offers Ideas on Chinese Women's Leadership

April 30, 2014
By Liu YuehuiEditor: Tracy Zhu
IMF Head Christine Lagarde Offers Ideas on Chinese Women's Leadership
Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde []

Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde recently talked about Chinese women's leadership and the close relationship between women's leadership and economic development, as well as offering her opinions on China's economic reform and development in the future.

Lagarde gave her talk when she attended the Tsinghua PBCSF Global Academic Leader Forum on March 23, 2014.

Lagarde also shared with the audience her confidence in China's future at the forum, by saying that  "As China grows to become the largest economy in the world, you [Chinese young people] will be the next generation of global leaders."

As the 11th IMF Managing Director, and also the first female Managing Director, Lagarde has always cared deeply about women's growth and development, and the important role women can play in business and in the sustainable development of the economy in the future.

As early as 2011, when Largade had just been nominated as the Managing Director of the IMF, she was interviewed by famous Chinese TV anchor Yang Lan, and talked about women's career development. At the opening ceremony of the China Development Forum, which opened in Beijing on March 22, Largade emphasized in her remarks that women's leadership has a close relationship with economic development. The increase of women's labor participation also enhances the whole of society's rate of economic development.

In her speech at Tsinghua University's forum, Lagarde further presented her ideas on the importance of women's leadership and women's roles in economic development. She said Chinese women have indeed made outstanding achievements. Lagarde convinced the audience with supporting statistical facts: "What about gender inequality? By several measures, China is virtually at par with advanced economies. At 46 percent of its labor force, China's women are advancing at rates nearly as strong as its overall expansion.In Chinese companies, nearly 20% of CEOs are women. This is compared to only 4 percent of women in the Standard and Poor's 500 companies. So women in China are certainly making their mark."

When talking about the pressure on young women to deal with all-aspect issues, especially the pressure facing women working in the financial industry, Lagarde said that these women are not working alone. They have support from their social networks and their work groups.Lagarde shared her own experience of being both a career woman and a mother of two young children when she worked in law firms. On the one hand, she enjoyed and cherished the time she spent with her children. On the other hand, she also enjoyed her career life by working incredibly hard.

As most of the audience at the forum were students, Largade also called on all the female students present to keep on working hard and to work together with other women to strive for their future success. She also called on male students to provide support to women as much as possible.

Lagarde also noted that In China there are still some groups of women lagging behind in their development. For example, many women in rural areas have to face the difficulty of making a living and at the same time they also have to shoulder the heavy responsibility of taking care of the whole family.

Lagarde suggested that if China wants to promote its development in the future, these problems in women's development have to be solved, as only in this way  can China achieve balanced development, and a more equal society. This will lead to the economic development becoming sustainable.
In addition to the women's development issues, at this economy and finance-themed forum, Lagarde, as the leader of IMF, was in an ideal position to shed an insightful light on China's reform and development in the next round of reforms.

Lagarde suggested that three concepts should be fostered in China's development. First, the development of the concept of services. China should increase investment on education to increase its human capital and further develop the domestic financial system to make it more open to the world. Second, the concept of inclusive development should be developed to decrease the gap between the rich and the poor and to reduce gender discrimination, in order to make future developments more sustainable. Third, the concept of environmental protection should be further enhanced. Lagarde emphasized that only when environmental problems are sufficiently solved, can people enjoy the benefits of development.

Christine Lagarde, born in 1956, is a French lawyer and Union for a Popular Movement politician, who has been the Managing Director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 5 July, 2011. Previously, Lagarde held various ministerial posts in the French government: she was Minister of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment and before that Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and Minister of Trade in the government of Dominique de Villepin. Lagarde was the first woman to become finance minister of a G8 economy, and is the first woman to head the IMF.

A noted antitrust and labor lawyer, Lagarde became the first female chairperson of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. On 16 November, 2009, the Financial Times ranked her the best Minister of Finance in the Eurozone.

On 28 June, 2011, Lagarde was named as the next MD of the IMF for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011, replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Her appointment is the 11th consecutive appointment of a European to head the IMF. In 2011, Lagarde was ranked the 8th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. On 29 October, Lagarde accepted an honorary doctoral degree from the KU Leuven, in Courtray.

( Translated and edited by Women of China)

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