The Nordic nations top the charts in the 2018 World Happiness Report, with Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland ranked 1–4 and Sweden at number 9. On May 15, Bloomberg reported that this ranking correlates closely with women’s status in those countries in an article titled The Key to Getting Much Richer Is All About How You Treat Women. “Governments interested in generating much more economic growth need to get more women into the workforce. The proof lies in the Nordic countries. The region has grown a lot richer thanks to decades of policies designed to improve gender equality, according to a report published this week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development,” the article states. The OECD report on economic gains from gender equality shows that policies aimed at increasing women’s participation in the workforce by supporting families have added 20 percent to the Nordic countries’ economic growth over the past 50 years—and could add 30 percent more by 2040.
The Nordic countries have spent decades ensuring that childbirth doesn’t jeopardize women’s employment, making good quality child and elder care available and affordable for all families, and reducing the gender pay gap. “Gender equality is both a fundamental human right and a key driver of inclusive growth,” said OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría on launching the organization’s report.
This news is not news to Legal Momentum. Since 1970, Legal Momentum has focused on women’s economic security as a fundamental component of equal human rights for women and girls. Many of our landmark legal cases over the years have helped secure fair treatment in the workplace and equality of opportunities for women. Our policy advocacy champions equal work and educational opportunities, equal pay, paid family and sick leave, affordable, high-quality child care, and generous government benefits for those unable to work or earning low wages. Legal Momentum’s most recent economic empowerment initiative, Women Valued, provides accessible information on legal rights in the workplace for low-wage and immigrant women, enabling them to defend themselves against the sexual harassment and gender discrimination that can derail their lives and careers.
It just makes sense that when half the population earns and produces more, the economy as a whole benefits. And it makes sense that when half the population is able to achieve greater economic security and personal freedom, the happiness of the population as a whole rises.