The Case for Women
In his article “The Case for Women,” economist and M.I.T. professor Simon Johnson examines a recent speech by Heidi Crebo-Rediker, the chief economist at the U.S. State Department, in which Crebo-Rediker called for the International Monetary Fund to recognize and validate the economic importance of women as it works with member nations.
There’s a lot to like about Johnson’s article. Here are three highlights:
1. This is truly a global issue. Johnson cites examples of how getting women more involved in fiscal matters will positively transform countries and regions ranging from United States to Japan to North Africa to southern Europe. Indeed, empowering women economically is a global solution to a global problem. Johnson writes, “the fund and other organizations should be encouraged to emphasize the importance of female opportunities, representation and participation for economic development around the world.”
2. In our country, empowering women should be on everyone’s political agenda. Interestingly, Johnson notes that before the 1960s, the Republican party was known was the party of women’s rights. Then, with the arrival of the feminist movement and its embrace by the Democrats, the parties essentially switched sides. If the United States is going to benefit in greater measure from the economic impact of women, we would do well to close what Johnson calls the “gender gap between Democrats and Republicans.” Women’s rights ought to transcend party lines.
3. There are hopeful signs of change at the top. Johnson concludes his piece on an upward note, for women are gaining power in some key seats of economic leadership. Currently, Janet Yellen serves as the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, and there is a good chance that President Obama will appoint her to the top post. Then there’s Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC, who according to Johnson would be an effective Secretary of the Treasury. Finally, Crebo-Rediker’s appeal will be heard by a woman, as Christine Legarde is the current leader of the IMF. As we move toward a greater empowerment of women at the ground level, it’s important that that move is accompanied by a similar trend at the leadership level.
So, why dismantle the system of privilege? The answer, at least in part, is so that the global economy can flourish as women find greater economic opportunities.