Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How would the world be different...

...if women controlled half of the world's wealth?

Why half? Because we are half the population of the planet.

This question has been haunting me lately as I have watched and listened to world news. Everything from the wars in the Middle East, to the Supreme Court nomination hearings, to world summits on the environment, to overhauling our health care system, to state-issued IOU's, to local stories of crime, violence, homelessness, and education. Women clearly have a far more vocal and influential voice than ever before in history, yet most of the decisions that rock the world and become the "rebar" of public policy and public discourse, are still formed on the basis of what the wealthiest (i.e., most powerful) people in the society think is most important--that is, of greatest value. Since men control roughly 94% of the world's wealth, that means that our societies (world wide) continue to be largely reflective of what those stakeholders think is most important, most valuable.

Women make up about 51% of the world's population. We also make up 51% of the paid labor force (at least in the U.S.). We spend most of the money in the world, but we control only about 6% of it. Societies--even the simplest ones--are economic systems. That is, things of value to people are exchanged for other things of value--whether currency, livestock, natural resources, manufactured goods, or services. People everywhere and at every level of sophistication or simplicity rely on the economy in which they find themselves, for survival. Throughout human history (with very few exceptions), societies worldwide have privileged their male members and allowed most of whatever commodity has been most valuable, to be owned and controlled by the men.

So I find myself wondering, how would the world be different if women (51% of all people) controlled 51% of the world's wealth?

If you have some thoughts on this, please share them!