Women’s rights may get politicized, but their economic benefits are for everyone

Image: Reuters/Neil Hall
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The day after Donald Trump’s swearing-in as 45th president of the United States, thousands of people will join the Women’s March on Washington, or one of its many sister marches around the world, to remind the incoming administration that “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” a motto coined by Hillary Clinton more than 20 years ago.

This should not be a partisan issue. Trump has said that he loves women—”cherishes” them even. But his presidency is the culmination of a campaign stained by sexism, and his proposed policies threaten substantial setbacks for American women—including a war on reproductive rights, a likely increase in health-care costs, and no plan to address the gender pay gap. Activists across the world hoping the US might advance on these issues will continue to look elsewhere for leadership.

The conversion of women’s rights into a partisan issue also masks another undeniable element of this activism: the economic benefits at stake. Fair pay, equal participation in the workforce, reproductive rights—when women, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, have their rights fulfilled, their countries grow faster, and more inclusively. According to a McKinsey report, fully equal workplace participation worldwide would add as much as $28 trillion to global annual GDP.

This progress is too important—ethically, socially, and economically—for anyone to be complacent. No government should stand in the way of a society where the minds and bodies of women are safe and supported, and where the roles of women are properly valued.

Women aren’t the only ones who carry the burden of reminding the world of this. It’s a task for all of us.

This essay was published in the weekend edition of the Quartz Daily Brief, our roundup of the world’s most important news and ideas. Sign up here to get the brief in your inbox each morning, tailored to your time zone.