What can we do to improve women's economic opportunities? Women have made significant progress over the last several decades, but throughout the world, they still face significant economic inequities, says Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
Lagarde writes in a blog post that International Women's Day (annually recognized on March 8, #womensday) is a time not only to celebrate progress made but also to call attention to these inequities and their solutions. Top challenges facing working-age women globally today, according to Lagarde, include:
- Only 50 percent of women are in the labor force, and many countries still limit paid employment opportunities for women.
- Women remain largely responsible for work done in homes and in fields, much of it "unseen and unpaid."
- The gender-wage gap is approximately 16 percent.
- Many women are taxed higher as "second earners" and discouraged from pursuing employment.
- Unemployment is on the rise, decreasing women's chances of finding permanent positions.
"Today, although men still dominate the executive suites in most professions, women all over the world hold high positions in the private sector and in public office. Women are no longer the 'Second Sex' Simone de Beauvoir wrote about," Lagarde writes. "Women have huge talents. Employers who don't offer equal opportunities to women simply ignore a large part of the skilled workforce.
"I am an optimist and see beyond these challenges; our daughters and granddaughters will have even better opportunities than women have today. And let us always remember that when women are allowed to develop their full potential, it is not only women who gain, but the whole world," she concludes.