Equality between men and women still remains a struggle in the majority of countries around the world, but the fact that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth is becoming more evident in the world’s fastest-growing economies. In addition to fueling the principle of equality, women’s economic participation is a vital, often overlooked, piece to the labor force.
Female Economic Participation
According to the International Monetary Fund, the importance of female economic participation mitigates the shrinking labor force in developing countries. The more opportunities women have increases the likelihood of the gender contributing to broader economic development. Such outcomes are often seen through higher enrollment numbers for education.
Currently, in the Middle East and Northern Africa, women account for 21 percent of the labor force. Often these gaps lead to significant GDP losses. Countries that have acquired such losses include Qatar, Oman and Iran, and all three nations have a projected GDP loss estimated at 30 percent or higher.
Many of these countries pose a legal threat to women — women signing contracts, traveling abroad and negotiating finances are not common. However large the losses, there are significant macroeconomic benefits to eliminating gender barriers. Some of these benefits include:
- Improvements in financial analytics
- Economic inclusion and data collection
- Reformative fiscal policies that integrate equality into law
One U.N. study claims that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth by fostering an additional $89 billion into the Asian Pacific economy per year.
A Rwandan Success Story
Some countries have fought hard to relinquish the negative stigma associated with women in their economies. From innovative coffee plantations in Rwanda to legislative change, alleviation of bias is slowly filtering its way through exclusive boundaries.
For instance, Rwanda has recently become a powerful leader in the gender equality sphere. Policies regarding gender empowerment and budgeting of public services are setting precedents for many Sub-Saharan African countries. In addition, the Ministry for Gender and Family Promotion is the largest gender equality organization in the country. Its commitment is centered on gender-based budgeting and fighting gender-based violence.
Rwanda and Gender
Post-Rwandan Genocide culture opened many doors for women just as World War II did for Americans. President Paul Kagame recognized the need for women’s labor and in 2003 passed legislation requiring 30 percent of parliamentary seats to be reserved for women. Kagame battled to revitalize the torn country with a labor force that was unheard of for many Eastern African countries.
As of January 2018 and thanks to President Kagame, 64 percent of seats in Rwandan legislature were held by women. This is a feat highly praised by most Rwandan women, but still remains a slight issue with Rwandan males and traditional females who choose to ignore the fact that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth.
Though Rwandan history has uniquely paved the way for female empowerment, many countries still lag behind the concept of gender equality. If barriers continue to be eliminated, economic success is sure to follow. Perhaps global powerhouses, like the U.S., can learn from Rwandan history, gender equality and culture, and bring gender equality to the forefront.
– Logan Moore