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Economic Freedom and Women Around the World

October 26, 2011 | Karin

Yesterday, I walked by the Occupy Wall Street protesters on the way home from work and noticed a stream of them going to Starbucks.  Aren’t they protesting big corporations like Starbucks?  It would have made for a good photograph.  In light of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the relationship between government and business is a hot topic.  One aspect of this relationship that I am not hearing discussed is the benefit of economic freedom to some historically disadvantaged groups.  I wanted to share one article from Forbes sent to me by a friend, Economic Freedom Key to Advancing Global Women’s Rights.  Michael Stroup writes,

Earlier this month the Nobel committee announced that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to be freely elected President of any African country, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. She shares this honor with fellow women’s rights activists Tawakkul Karman of Yemen and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia. All three have had a profound impact in furthering economic progress, social freedoms and human rights for all citizens.

Their recognition has brought renewed, world-wide attention to women’s persistent struggle for equality of opportunity and personal security. As world citizens, we should feel compelled to discover what laws and institutions best empower women in their pursuits of true self-determination, enabling them to contribute their considerable talents to benefit society.

Empirical research has shown that advances in women’s welfare and empowerment have been much greater among those countries that have well-established private property rights, maintained a consistent rule of law and relied more upon the free market process to allocate productive resources in the economy. In other words, world-wide data show that women’s well-being and opportunity is best enhanced by the presence of economic freedom.

In so many nations around the world, women do not have basic economic rights.  He writes that women in nations with more economic freedom are better off.

The girl living under the most economic freedom is better situated to acquire human capital and shape her own path in life. She is twice as likely to complete a secondary education, will be much more likely to own a business, and she will see nearly twice the ratio of female role models elected to her nation’s parliament. She will also have an additional 20 years of life to contribute to society and enjoy the fruits of her life choices.

Yes, times are tough for many Americans, but let’s not forget all the benefits that economic freedom can provide.

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