U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday in this capital that the world economy is losing out because of restrictions placed on the participation of women in the workforce.

Clinton said that restrictions on the participation of women in the global economy had been quantified and it had been determined that the world was losing "massive" amounts of potential wealth because women were being excluded. In eastern Asia alone, she said, $40 billion in potential gross domestic product was being lost yearly.

The U.S. secretary of state was in Peru to participate in the international conference entitled "Power: Woman as engine of growth and social inclusion" being held here as part of the activities surrounding Social Inclusion Week.

Also present at the conference, which was held in a hotel in the capital's San Isidro district amid heavy security, were Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and the executive director of U.N. Women and former Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet.

Clinton said that by facilitating the participation of women in the workforce, the United States could increase its GDP by about 9 percent, while in the Eurozone the increase could be as much as 13 percent.

She also said that Latin America is on the road to giving women greater ability to participate in that region's economy, a move that began to gather momentum during the 1990s.

Clinton announced the creation of a fund for businesswomen to which the United States had made an initial contribution of $900,000 to launch pilot programs in Peru and Honduras, and she issued a call for more contributors.

She also mentioned another initiative of female leaders in Peru that will focus on the rural population and will receive a contribution of $500,000 from the U.S. government.

Bachelet said that inequalities must be overcome with greater political commitment, with education, with more women in key decision-making posts and other measures.

"A billion women are not able to reach their full potential as people and their economic potential due to obstacles such as unequal access to opportunities, to loans, the lack of education and the lack of support from their communities to enter the labor force," she said.

Meanwhile, Humala made a commitment to make visible the efforts of women in the labor force and to leave behind discrimination regarding their abilities.

"Peru as a state has a debt to women. Therefore, the policy of social inclusion starts with including women as a productive engine of our society. Women have been invisible for the state, but they have not remained idle," he said.

"We want to show the whole world that we have the firm political will to change this situation. To give greater labor participation and greater political participation to women. The state must accompany women" on that road, he added.

Clinton, for her part, praised Humala for his commitment and passion when he spoke of social inclusion with economic growth, something that she said many leaders still do not understand.

She also said that one of Peru's main challenges is to end drug trafficking and terrorism, and in that effort Lima is working jointly with Washington with the aim of supporting the policy of alternative crops to replace the illegal growing of coca.

After the conference concluded, Clinton and Bachelet went to the Gamarra trade center in downtown Lima to meet with successful businessmen along with Humala's wife Nadine Heredia.

Social Inclusion Week in Peru includes seminars, talks, photographic exhibits, presentations and inauguration ceremonies to launch development projects in different parts of the country. EFE