I'm sorry I couldn't be there in person, but I am delighted to send best wishes to all of you as you come together to find ways to elevate the status of women. I also want to thank the Government of Bangladesh for hosting.
Closing the gender gap is a powerful prescription for economic growth. The evidence is clear and the debate should be over. But all over the world, women still face enormous obstacles to starting new businesses or expanding existing ones. Many of you have faced these barriers firsthand.
That is why the United States has been working tirelessly to develop concrete solutions to these obstacles through our policies, programs, and diplomatic engagement. And we are not alone. Businesses, governments, and major financial and multinational institutions are stepping up to the plate with more inclusive policies to advance women's entrepreneurship and economic development.
I often say that no country can prosper if half its population is left behind -- so the work you all are doing will have a real return on investment. By sharing best practices and brainstorming new initiatives, you are unlocking the potential of women across South Asia -- and creating a brighter future for all citizens of the region.
Thank you for your efforts. I look forward to hearing about the ideas you come up with.