As we all know, in recent decades China has established itself as a world economic power after it began its transition from a communist model to a capitalist system. These reforms have brought benefits for their population because it has allowed them access to opportunities and freedoms that were restricted in the previous system. However, there has been an important social cost for women who are the ones who have had to assume the burden of moving from a planned economy to a market economy.
In this article, the author Zhang Lijia analyzes how the participation of women in the labor market of the new China has deteriorated. While in the 70s 90% of women of working age were employed, in this decade only 45% of Chinese women have a job. In addition, currently the average salary of women corresponds to only 67% of that of men.
And why does this situation arise? Because with the opening of markets came many private companies which use unscrupulous practices towards female workers in China. So for example many companies refuse to hire women of child bearing age and sometimes if a woman gets pregnant, they fire her. Even in some cases, they force women to write that “in the next ten years I promise I will not have children”. In this way, China went from a state that defended gender equality to a system of open sexism.
I find this analysis interesting because generally when we talk about economic systems and the advantages of capitalism over communist systems we do not think about gender issues and the case of China is a clear example that despite having a successful economic growth this it has not translated into better social conditions for their women.
Last week the World Economic Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland. This Summit that every year calls many of the most important world’s business leaders, economists and politicians to discuss a specific theme of global interest, has been seen as an elitist and predominantly masculine event due to the low participation of the women. However, this year the things have started to change and for the first time in the 47-year history of this conference, seven women were selected to lead the discussions that took place in the Forum. The seven women were: FMI director Christine Lagarde; IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway; Sharan Burrow, general-secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, the world’s largest trade union; Fabiola Gianotti, director-general, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN); Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE, and Chetna Sinha, founder of the Mann Deshi Bank, which provides microfinance to women in India.
Likewise, although every year the analysis of gender inequality has been present in the agenda of the Forum, this year this topic had special relevance due in large part to this female leadership and to the impulse the movements like MeToo and Times Up.
I think it is a clear demonstration of the power of the women and the historic moment that the society is living. Logically, changing the male domain is not something that is achieved from one moment to another but start having presence and voice in these scenarios where the most important economic decisions that impact millions of people in the world are discussed and taken is a good start . I also think that it is important that the media give a greater coverage to this type of news that show women’s leadership and empowerment which would also contribute to changing the social imaginary of women as a weaker sex.
“America’s gender pay gap is at a record low, but hold the celebration”
By: Heidi Hartmann
Summary: In this September 22 commentary published on Fortune.com, Heidi Hartmann the president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research critiques a recent U.S. Census Bureau report regarding the “gender pay gap”. Explaining that the recent findings are “not statistically significant” she offers a variety of measures that can be taken to decrease the pay disparity between men and women and result in the boost of the overall economy, as well as, reduce the number of families that live at or below the current poverty threshold in the United States.
Article Link: http://fortune.com/2015/09/22/americas-gender-pay-gap-is-at-a-record-low-but-hold-the-celebration/
U.S. Census Report: http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p60-252.pdf
In this Harvard Business School article, researches ponder the question why there are so few women holding board seats at the 1500 S&P businesses (only 14% of board seats are held by women). The results of their research are very interesting in some aspects (the similarities in how men and women in business think) and was completely not surprising in other aspects (men don’t think there are enough qualified women to fill board seats while women think the board seats are often filled by ultra-traditional methods). I definitely think this is an interesting investigation of women in business and the perceptions of women in business.
Two years ago, a monumental earthquake struck Haiti and killed 220,000 people, injured 300,000 and left a million people homeless. A recent CNN article documents how Haitian women at the local level are leading the way to recovery. Oxfam, for example, has trained 1600 women in literacy and budgeting skills so that they can obtain grants to start businesses to aid their families. Another Haitian woman implemented a new technique for rice cultivation that saves on fertilizer and water. These are positive signs that empowering women at the local level does make a positive difference in the welfare of a nation. To read more, go to: http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/15/opinion/etienne-haiti/index.html?iref=allsearch
If you are hearing the news about increasing food prices, now is a good time to think about how women can be the solution rather than the problem, as the book Half the Sky claims:
Bias Against Female Farmers Shrinks Food Harvests
What do you think? Would global gender equality in agriculture potentially offset these intermittent crises in food security set off by such dependent trends as the rise in oil prices?
The UN Commission on the Status of Women’s annual session kicked off today with opening remarks that address the necessity of educating women and girls as a tool of economic and personal empowerment. This is a recurrent theme throughout the literature regarding women’s issues worldwide, and I look forward to seeing what progress is made over the next two weeks as the session continues.
Of particular interest is the creation of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which is an organization that aims to bring women into the fold in regards to decision-making at the policy level around the world.
Posted by Jennifer O’Neill
from Susan Pearce:
It is interesting that both the Wall Street Journal and Businessweek ask “where are the women?” at the World Economic Forum. See this short piece in the Huffington Post. What are the implications of this for women, global governance, and economic development?