Muhtar Kent, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at The Coca-Cola Company, shared his article, Empower Women and Recharge the World, on Linkedin on January 14, 2014.

Our future depends on women. All around the world, women entrepreneurs, women innovators, and women leaders in business, politics, academia, and culture are transforming societies and the global economy. And they will continue to do so.

Why? For starters, women represent the fastest-growing, most dynamic economic force in the world today. Women now control more than $20 trillion in global spending. That means women have an economic impact 50 percent larger than that of the United States and more than twice the size of China and India’s economies combined.

In the United States alone, women-owned businesses account for nearly $3 trillion of the gross domestic product. In fact, if American women were measured as a separate country, they would have the fifth-largest economy in the world!

Of course, women’s entrepreneurship extends far beyond our shores. The truth is, it’s soaring around the globe. Worldwide, 1 in 11 working-age women is involved in entrepreneurship. And the highest percentages of women business owners are in markets you might not expect.

In Thailand, nearly 20 percent of working women are entrepreneurs. In India, the number is 14 percent. In Argentina, it’s 12 percent; Brazil, 11 percent; Mexico and Chile, 10 percent. And these numbers continue to increase.

We have also seen that when women rise in their communities, the communities themselves rise to new heights of prosperity and health. Over and over, studies have found a direct correlation between women’s empowerment and GDP growth, business growth, environmental sustainability, improved human health, and other positive impacts.

So as the world seeks ways to accelerate growth across a global economy that is struggling to emerge from recession, the solution is right in front of us: Empower women, and you recharge the world.

Creating a climate of success for women is smart business—and not just for consumer-products companies. Today, it’s smart business for every company and every country.

In the years ahead, women’s economic participation and entrepreneurial growth will drive the world’s economy. It’s no longer a matter of “if” but of “to what heights.” All of the exciting growth projections for various countries and regions will hinge on greater empowerment of women.

The upward trajectory has already begun. And yet around the world—and across America—we still see too many roadblocks for women: cultural, educational, political, and financial.

Those of us in business, government, and civil society—what we call the “Golden Triangle”—must work together to knock these barriers down. As we do, we will give more women the chance to access financial resources, move into positions of leadership, and start their own businesses.

When it comes to empowering women, the implications for companies, communities, and countries will be vast and profound. Our overall success will, in large measure, depend on the success of women.

If we all do our part, I am convinced that future historians will one day look back on our time as the dawn of “The Women’s Century”—a century that is more open, more hopeful, and more prosperous than any that has come before.

I thought I would share with you an essay I was honored to contribute to The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, just released by Maria Shriver, the Center for American Progress and RosettaBooks. This important, highly informative eBook is available for free download through January 15. — Muhtar