Globalization Improves the Status of Women

January 13, 2004

Globalization has rapidly improved the social and economic status of women in the developing world, says Pete Geddes, Program Director of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment. The explanation is straightforward: In a competitive, globalized world, the role of women becomes ever more valuable.

Cultures that exclude women from full participation (e.g., Saudi Arabia), however, fall ever further behind. Likewise, those societies that embrace education for women enjoy dramatic social progress, explains Geddes:

  • Educated women tend to have fewer children; when they enter the workforce their contributions dramatically improve their countries' economic prospects.
  • Concurrently, economic independence increases their stature both at home and in the community; also, women spend their income very differently than men, focusing on key areas for social progress: the education, health, and nutrition of their families.
  • Over the past 20 years, 200 million people have left absolute poverty -- defined as living on the equivalent of less than $1 a day.
  • In developing countries in the 1950s, 178 children per every 1000 live births died before reaching their first birthday; however, by the late 1990s, the infant mortality rate in these countries had declined to 64 per 1000.
  • In 1960, children made up 32 percent of the labor force in low-income countries yet forty years later, following the massive expansion in international trade, child labor in the same countries had declined to 19 percent.

The integration of rich and poor nations is not a zero-sum game where the gains of one come at the expense of the other. Driven by the rapid democratization of information, technology, and finance, globalization is turning out to be a remarkably progressive, liberating force. Opponents of globalization may be well intentioned, but they are ill informed, says Geddes.

Source: Pete Geddes, "The Benefits of Globalization," Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, January 7, 2004.

 

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