The idea that women might rule the World seemed slightly ridiculous – like something out of science fiction. Women clearly lacked the intellectual capacity and emotional fortitude to make the difficult decisions that leadership required. It was not bias, it was biology – it was just the way women were made. But that was then. Attitudes and ideas have changed – and fast.
That is not to say that every corner of the World has welcomed women moving from the traditional and private into the modern and public. But move they have. As a huge and growing body of research and experience makes clear, empowering women makes things better. Not perfect. But better.
Business is more profitable. Governments are more representative. Families are stronger, and communities are healthier. There is less violence – and more peace, stability and sustainability. Despite ongoing challenges, the benefits of empowering women are undeniable. Women are the engine driving global economic growth.
Acknowledging that men and women bring different qualities and different skills to public life is critical. For too long, women were expected to think like men and act like men if they wanted to succeed. But increasingly their differences are seen as a source of strength rather than a weakness to be overcome.
The end of the world is drawing near, it’s two minutes to midnight. In the cabinet of a country with a pacifist constitution and a state disarmament programme, the president and her ministers face a dilemma. Another country is breaking a joint international agreement by announcing an increase in its nuclear stockpiles. Will they abandon their one-sided disarmament or continue with their original plan?
Women are essential to building and sustaining peace. Today, nearly half of peace agreements fail within five years in no small measure because half the stakeholders are excluded. When women are at the table, they help bridge the gap between different groups and ensure that a broader range of issues, from food security to sexual violence, are addressed. As a result, peace is more likely to take root.
Empowering women is not about political correctness, it is about improving outcomes. It is about investing in stronger economies and healthier communities – it is about ending conflicts, and sustaining peace. It is about improving the quality of life for people all over the World. Empowering women is not just the right thing, it is the necessary thing. And because women are increasingly ruling, the World is changing for the better.