Gender Inequality Persists, Presents Opportunities

It is often thought that the genders are unequal elsewhere in the world, such as in the societies of the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East. However, gender inequality remains a pervasive problem, here in the United States.

The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at number 65 out of 142 countries in the category of wage equality for similar work. Particularly troubling is the fact that the United States has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a landmark international agreement signed by over 180 countries that affirms fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world. The CEDAW was originally signed by President Jimmy Carter back in 1980, but our senate has not bothered to take a vote in the 35 years since. Only six other countries have failed to ratify the CEDAW: Iran, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Palau, and Tonga.

This is not to say that women’s standing has not improved in recent decades the world over. But stubborn gender gaps remain. When women make up half the world's work force and perform as much as 66% of the world's work, empowering women as economic actors will only serve to strengthen families and communities:

"The economic empowerment of women is a prerequisite for sustainable development, pro-poor growth, and the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)." -OECD, 2011

Recently, media mogul and thought leader Arianna Huffington called for a third women's revolution, noting that the first revolution won women the right of suffrage and the second, while not yet complete, has begun to put women in positions of power in governments and companies around the world. The third revolution is rooted in the idea that it's not only the gender breakdown of those in leadership roles, but also the way leadership is conducted. Traditionally, leadership is an always-on, all-or-nothing, zero-sum game of plowing through task after task, day after day. Men boasting of near-constant productivity and many sleepless nights is a hallmark of male-dominated leadership. But for true productivity, Huffington notes, relaxation, disconnection from our devices, personal time–and yes, sleep–are under-utilized tools for productivity enhancement, not to mention personal growth and community building. This is not just about taking on more leadership roles, but about changing the way the world works, slowing down, having more recharge time, and thinking more holistically and sustainably. Women, she contends, are the ones with the experience and the empathy to help all of us –men and women – transition to this more balanced way of life.

Developing a more sustainable and healthful world for future generations requires a greater reverence, appreciation and leadership role for the character and qualities inherent in womankind .

Posted by Robbie Copley
May 6, 2015