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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Slowing global growth and stagnating investment returns have created a fertile environment for a novel idea: gender equality. It has been front and center at the autumn IMF-World Bank meetings — now framed not as an altruistic appeal, but as an economic imperative.

Why it matters: New IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva looks to be bringing that imperative to the economic policy focused Fund rather than the philanthropically minded Bank, a major change for how issues of diversity and equality are viewed.

  • Among her top structural reforms, "opening up more space for women to participate in the labor market," Georgieva said during a panel on the global economy Thursday.
  • Not only has she stressed equal opportunities for women and girls in her remarks, it is also included in the Fund's official literature as a top priority for improving economic outcomes.

Why now: "Gender inequality hampers global growth and causes women to take on more debt, have lower pensions and higher poverty risk," Amlan Roy, State Street Global Investors senior managing director, declared in a presentation during the National Association of Business Economists conference earlier this month.

  • "The elimination of gender inequality is essential for macro growth, development and long-term economic welfare."

By the numbers: A study by S&P Global presented at the World Economic Forum this year found that by increasing women's numbers in the labor force the U.S. could contribute $4.5 trillion in market value, and that could have ripple effects that reach around the world.

  • An S&P study released Wednesday finds that firms with female CFOs were generated profits well above the market average.

There is a clear message being sent. Not only was the first session Georgieva took part in as managing director titled "Women, Work and Leadership" (and "not by chance" she told attendees), there has been an assortment of IMF presentations and panels dedicated to promoting women's opportunities.

What's next: A session this afternoon called "Unleashing the Potential of Women Entrepreneurs Through Finance and Markets" will feature the sole public appearance by Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon at the meetings along with Santander Bank Executive Chairwoman Ana Botín and World Bank President David Malpass.

Go deeper

Updated 15 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

16 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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