“There is nothing more wholesome than the increased participation of women, from corporate boardrooms to legislative bodies, in classrooms and on the playing fields. To ensure peace and prosperity in the 21st century, we must increase the participation of women. That is why I encourage the women of the world to know their power,” was the message of the Democratic Leader of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to the readers of this blog. We met when she spent a few hours in Budapest recently. Ms. Pelosi made history in 2007 with becoming the first woman Speaker of the House in the US and recently published the book “Know Your Power”.
What she says, echoes with the message of The Global Gender Gap Report 2011 by the World Economic Forum, a research that measures economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment of women. The report starts with a cry for action: „Given the complexity of the world today and the economic, demographic, environmental and political transformations we face, we must commit to a new mindset, one that discards old prejudices and inertia and instead commits to new ideas and new solutions. Empowering and educating girls and women and leveraging their talent and leadership fully in the global economy, politics and society are fundamental elements of the new models required to succeed in today’s challenging landscape. The most important determinant of a country’s competitiveness is its human talent – the skills, education and productivity of its workforce. Over time, a nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it utilizes its human resource pool. Furthermore, innovation requires unique ideas, and the best ideas thrive in a diverse environment. Countries and companies will thrive if women are educated and engaged as fundamental pillars of the economy, and diverse leadership is most likely to find innovative solutions to tackle the current economic challenges and to build equitable and sustainable growth. Governments play an important role in creating the right policy framework for improving women’s education and economic participation. However, it is also the imperative of companies to create ecosystems where the best talent, both male and female, can flourish.”
Wonder how this region we live in scores on the issue of gender equality? Believe it or not, in the above mentionned Report most of the countries from CEE are listed among the High Income category and have the following overall ranking among the total 130+ countries measured on economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment of women.
|Country||Overall Score||Overall Rank|
Ranking by Income Group – High Income (source: Page 14 at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2011.pdf)
Ms. Pelosi is not the first US female leader who is outspoken about the gender question. Former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, the first woman in this office, also is vocal on the challenge women face. And who can forget that scene in the recent movie The Iron Lady, when the future first female PM of the UK, Margaret Thatcher, for the first time enters the British parliament as a newly elected female MP, brightly dressed amidst a sea of black suits? The hardship of being the first manifested itself in the fact that they even still had to build a bathroom for ladies. These women play an important role as they are the icebreakers from whom the next generations can learn a lot.