Welcome to this important symposium, which is helping expand economic opportunity for women from Central Asia and Afghanistan. I was pleased to announce this event at the OSCE Summit last year, and now I'm delighted to see that you have made it a reality.
I especially want to thank President Otunbayeva for bringing everyone together. Your leadership on microfinance for women has helped build a movement that has transformed the lives of millions around the world.
The research is clear: Investing in girls and women spurs economic growth and helps create stable and prosperous societies. Those of you here today know just how important these investments are. I hope you will take this opportunity to share stories, compare challenges, and explore solutions that will advance not just your own economic success, but that of your countries and the region as well.
Behind every successful person -- male or female -- there is a network of support. So I want to thank all the policymakers, business owners, educators, donors, and civil society leaders who have come together to help you fulfill your potential. I hope even more partners will soon join their ranks.
I wish each of you continued success, and I can't wait to hear about the results of this forum. I hope this is the beginning of a long-term partnership for all of us.
Thank you very much.