Women Are Agents of Geopolitical Change.... in other words.... We Rock!

An extract from Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World
by the Washington-based National Intelligence Council

Women as Agents of Geopolitical Change

Economic and political empowerment of women could transform the global landscape over the next 20 years.

This trend already is evident in the area of economics: The explosion in global economic productivity in recent years has been driven as much by fostering human resources—particularly through improvements in health, education, and employment opportunities for women and girls—as by technological advances.
  • The predominance of women in Southeast Asia’s export manufacturing sector is a likely key driver of that region’s economic success; women agricultural workers account for half the world’s food production—even without reliable access to land, credit, equipment, and markets.
  • Over the next 20 years the increased entry and retention of women in the workplace may continue to mitigate the economic impacts of global aging.
  • Women in much of Asia and Latin America are achieving higher levels of education than men, a trend that is particularly significant in a human capital-intensive global economy.
  • Demographic data indicate a significant correlation between a higher level of female literacy and more robust GDP growth within a region (e.g., the Americas, Europe, and East Asia). Conversely, those regions with the lowest female literacy rates (southern and western Asia; the Arab world; and Sub-Saharan Africa) are the poorest in the world.
  • Improved educational opportunities for girls and women also are a contributing factor to falling birth rates worldwide—and by extension better maternal health. The long-term implications of this trend likely include fewer orphans, less malnutrition, more children in school, and other contributions to societal stability.
  • Although data on women’s political involvement are less conclusive than those regarding economic participation, political empowerment of women appears to change governmental priorities. Examples as disparate as Sweden and Rwanda indicate that countries with relatively large numbers of politically active women place greater importance on societal issues such as healthcare, the environment, and economic development.
  • If this trend continues over the next 15-20 years, as is likely, an increasing number of countries could favor social programs over military ones. Better governance also could be a spinoff benefit, as a high number of women in parliament or senior government positions correlates with lower corruption.
  • Nowhere is the role of women potentially more important for geopolitical change than in the Muslim World. Muslim women do far better assimilating in Europe than their male relatives, partly because they flourish in the educational system, which facilitates their entry into jobs in information or service industries.
  • Sharply declining fertility rates among Muslims in Europe demonstrate this willingness to accept jobs outside the home and a growing refusal to conform to traditional norms. In the short term, the decline of traditional Muslim family structures may help explain the openness of many young Muslim men to radical Islamic messages. However, in rearing future generations, women might help show the way to greater social assimilation and reduce the likelihood of religious extremism.
  • The impact of growing numbers of Muslim women in the workplace may also have an impact outside Europe. The modernizing countries of the Islamic Mediterranean have close ties to Europe, to which these countries have sent many migrants. Migrants return to visit or resettle and bring with them new ideas and expectations. These Islamic countries also receive foreign influences from European mass media, through satellite dishes and the Internet.

Courtesy of Lucian Mihai