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March 9 2015

In Honor of International Women's Day, Let's Appreciate What's Fueled Women's Progress

Carrie L. Lukas

International Women's Day occurred over the weekend. Events were held around the globe to mark the occasion, celebrate women's achievements and call for more progress.

Raising awareness about women's advancement and the need for further progress is certainly a worthy cause. Sadly, much of the commentary on and surrounding International Women's Day pushes policy ideas that I see as contrary to women's interests. That's too bad, since women truly remain second class citizens in too much of the world and the world leaders ought to do more to speak out on behalf of oppressed women and make the case that women's rights are human rights.

And, in fact, as the Western world struggles to respond to the threat of radical jihadists, it's crucial to understand that women's role in society is a root source of conflict. While the developed world remains imperfect, women are legal equals and we've come to take for granted our opportunities and freedoms to live life as we wish. Women ought to recognize that those who attacked free speech in Paris might make a symbol of women's liberation their next target. We cannot take our present circumstances for granted.

And it's worth lingering on how we got here. The Wall Street Journal featured an oped by Anthony Davies and James Harrigan that highlights how it isn't a more generous welfare state that has fueled women's advancement, but greater economic liberty and free markets that have boosted women's outcomes most:

According to the U.N.’s own numbers, women suffer less inequality in poor, economically free countries than they do in poor, economically unfree countries. Women in poor but economically free countries hold more elected seats in government (relative to men), are better educated (relative to men), and live longer (relative to men) than do women in poor but economically unfree countries.

Since the advent of International Women’ Day, many, from the common people to presidents and popes, have looked to government control of markets as the solution to the problems of poverty and inequality. A landslide of evidence over the past century shows that, regardless of our good intentions, the more we allow governments to control markets, the more poverty and inequality we experience.

Read the whole article here. Women's progress is one of the great triumphs of the West, and particularly of the market economy. So cheers to that and to International Women's Day.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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