Empowering the 49 per cent

In the words of Hillary Clinton, ‘the biggest piece of unfinished business in the 21st century is full rights and opportunities for women and girls.’

The World Today Published 1 April 2015 Updated 21 June 2023 1 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

As Jeni Klugman explains in our cover story, that unfinished business is glaringly obvious in the workplace. Getting women into paid work benefits everybody – the workers, their children and the economy – but it is not happening. The proportion of women in work globally has actually fallen over the past 25 years, from 57 per cent to 55.

Wealthier countries do not necessarily offer women the best chances. While true about Norway, Turkey and South Korea are low in our ranking of female economic opportunity, while Burundi, Botswana and Kenya make the top 10.

Meanwhile a combination of lower fertility and a preference for sons is producing an alarming rise in foetal gender selection. The trend, already well established in China, is moving west to the southern fringes of the old USSR and into Europe. The rising sex imbalance means millions of men will never settle down to married life, with grave consequences for social stability in China, India and beyond.

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