A recent column from Nicholas Kristof highlighted how inequality can be so disempowering that it affects our soul. He explains, “there’s growing evidence that the toll of our stunning inequality is not just economic but also is a melancholy of the soul. The upshot appears to be high rates of violent crime, high narcotics use, high teenage birthrates and even high rates of heart disease.” People at the lower economic end of our society become increasingly marginalized as they are unable to express their latent capacities. When excluded from large segments of society, people become depressed. When our society does not recognize the abilities of each individual and their latent potential – such as the ability to serve others, to love, to build unity – feelings of anger and hopelessness bubble to the surface and manifest themselves in violence, illness and general misconduct. Since we focus on the equality of women and men, we have been looking at on how women have been excluded from participation in economic structures, however, inequality is becoming a defining characteristic of our economic structures and this inequality extends beyond just the exclusion of women.

The end of this section of the document explains:

It is widely recognized that the economic empowerment of women is an essential aspect of the advancement of the equality of women and men and necessary for assuring that women have options and the ability to make decisions conducive to their own well-being and that of their families… those who wish to foster women’s full and equal participation in society will also need to reflect on the nature of the economic arrangements within which this participation is to take place. We need to ask ourselves whether such arrangements should only be concerned with the accumulation of material wealth that enriches a few or whether they should aim to enhance collective prosperity and promote community well-being and environmental sustainability. If our goal is the latter, then we need to ask ourselves how can a recognition of the unremunerated and unacknowledged work of feeding, nurturing and caring for others refine our understanding of economic realities? In addition, while rendering such work visible and valuable, how can we ensure that women participate more fully in all fields of work, that men become more active in the work of caring and nurturing and that the values underpinning such work are carried to other arenas of society?

Advertisements