The global economy's recovery has been anemic at best, but putting women to work would likely change that, the world's lender of last resort said.
"Increasing women's economic participation can, in turn, lead to higher growth," Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said in a blog post Monday.
She cited data showing that increasing women's labor force participation to equal men's would boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 5 percent in the U.S., 9 percent in Japan, 12 percent in the U.A.E. and 34 percent in Egypt.
But there are serious headwinds -- what Lagarde called an "insidious conspiracy" -- to getting more women in the workforce.
"Almost 90 percent of countries have at least one important restriction in the books, and some have many," she noted, citing obstacles including requiring a husband's permission to work and barring women from some professions.
It's an issue that got some extra time in the spotlight this week, when actress Patricia Arquette used her acceptance speech for the Oscar award for Best Supporting Actress to advocate for equal pay.