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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

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Biden says $1,400 stimulus payments can start going out this month

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.

Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.

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