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Empowering women Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Economic Wonder Women

Closing the economic gender gap requires upholding women’s rights and, in many places, ensuring their physical safety. This International Women’s Day, is the glass half empty or half full?

In this Big Picture, World Bank Group President David Malpass says that unleashing the economic power of women is not only the right thing to do, but also can contribute to global growth, and highlights four ways that countries can work toward achieving this goal.

Encouragingly in this regard, Goldman Sachs Japan’s Kathy Matsui, who introduced the concept of “Womenomics” 20 years ago, finds that shifting attitudes among younger Japanese men are turning the tide in favor of gender parity and inclusion. In the United States, however, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Monica Chellam point out that although women dominate US corporations’ human-resources departments, they still account for only about 10% of top executive positions. Similarly, Toyin Saraki of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa notes that women remain largely excluded from decision-making processes in the health sector – with sometimes fatal consequences.

Moreover, says Tlaleng Mofokeng, a member of South Africa’s Commission for Gender Equality, modern development strategies fail to recognize the need for concerted action to protect women from violence and uphold the rights of victims. Yet, despite these challenges and threats, Françoise Girard of the International Women’s Health Coalition is optimistic that, in 2020, the global feminist movement will again overcome powerful resistance to defend the rights of women and other marginalized groups.

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