When women rise in the work force, nations benefit. By CONDOLEEZZA RICE & MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
- US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice(L) and Madeleine K. Albright(Rt), the 64th US Secretary of State, walk past Albright's official portrait(rear) after it was unveiled April 14, 2008 in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the Department of State in Washington, D.C.When women rise in the work force, nations benefitBy CONDOLEEZZA RICE & MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHTA new study released by the Center for American Progress reveals positive news regarding the role of women in the American workplace. Produced under the direction of Maria Shriver, a journalist, author and leader of The Women's Conference, "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything" finds that for the first time, women make up half our nation's labor force and are the primary or co-equal breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families.According to the Shriver report, the rise of women in the workplace has been accompanied by a significant shift in social attitudes, including acceptance by men of women's professional roles and support for the idea that women should be entitled to equal pay for equal work. Men are also more likely to agree that the challenge of meeting both economic needs and child-care responsibilities is a joint one, requiring the time and energy of both partners.As members of the advisory committee for the study, who together make up the entire pool of former female secretaries of state, we find that the most intriguing aspects of the transformational shifts documented in this study are the implications for women across the globe. The changing landscape of the American family and work force has been made possible only by extending equal opportunities for women in the classroom, in the boardroom and at the ballot box.This equality empowers women with the freedom of choice - the universal right to determine their own destinies, careers, beliefs and family structures. When women have the power to make their own choices, the chains of poverty can be broken, families are strengthened and socially constructive values are more likely to be handed down to the young. They can finance their own businesses and contribute to their country's economy or teach their daughters and sons to promote innovation and creativity that will lift the world's poorest nations out of poverty.When women are treated as chattel, however, the symptoms of social and moral decay are almost certain to spread. A society that is not decent to women is not a decent society, and an indecent society is a dangerous one. Men who tyrannize women are prone, in time, to extend their despotism to social and political rivals of every description. In our 21st-century world, such societies ultimately pose the greatest threats to global security. In Afghanistan, the Taliban's repression of women festered into a society that condoned terrorists who turned to violence against innocents as a form of political expression. They must not be allowed to succeed.We do not presume that the American model is the only correct one. But we must extend to all societies the universal right of women to choose their own fortunes. The Shriver report offers a path to such a future by shining a spotlight on the important gains that American women have made in the national economy. It shows, in particular, the ability of people who believe in the need for change to alter deeply ingrained social attitudes through the steady application of pressure and persuasion. This provides a timely and hopefully motivating course for a world in which the right kind of change is still desperately needed in countries where too many women remain without a choice.Madeleine K. Albright, who was secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, is chairwoman of the Albright Stonebridge Group. Condoleezza Rice, who was secretary of state from 2005 to 2009, is the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson senior fellow on public policy and professor of political science at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Both served on the advisory committee for "A Woman's Nation Changes Everything."US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice(L) and Madeleine K. Albright(Rt), the 64th US Secretary of State, walk past Albright's official portrait(rear) after it was unveiled April 14, 2008 in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the Department of State in Washington, D.C.US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (R) stands with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (L) and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (C) at the ceremonial groundbreaking of the United States Institute of Peace on Navy Hill in Washington, DC, on June 5, 2008.Rice for President Yahoo Group"Condoleezza Rice for President in 2012. Join this group of supporters from everywhere on the world wide web."