Female Power

Source: Economist, Vol. 394 no. 8663, January 2, 2009
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Across the rich world more women are working than ever before. Coping with this change will be one of the great challenges of the coming decades.

The economic empowerment of women across the rich world is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past 50 years. It is remarkable because of the extent of the change: millions of people who were once dependent on men have taken control of their own economic fates. It is remarkable also because it has produced so little friction: a change that affects the most intimate aspects of people’s identities has been widely welcomed by men as well as women. Dramatic social change seldom takes such a benign form.

Yet even benign change can come with a sting in its tail. Social arrangements have not caught up with economic changes. Many children have paid a price for the rise of the two-income household. Many women–and indeed many men–feel that they are caught in an ever-tightening tangle of commitments. If the empowerment of women was one of the great changes of the past 50 years, dealing with its social consequences will be one of the great challenges of the next 50.

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