Population growth is primarily due to improvements in life expectancy and child mortality rates, a result of modern medicine becoming widely available.
The most viable way to reduce this growth is by reducing the fertility rate, and one positive method of doing this is through the promotion of feminism.
Feminism and achieving equality for women is essential if we want to become a better and fairer society, but its promotion in developing countries could also help prevent environmental devastation.
Imagine you have been told from birth that your job in life is to marry and have children, and society enforced this by denying you equal access to education and employment opportunity. This is the kind of oppressive society that most women still live in around the world, and it is especially visible in many developing countries with above average fertility rates such as Chad, Yemen and Pakistan.
Employment Birth Rate Ratio
Simply put, the result of confining women to the role of a wife and child bearer is a high fertility rate. Therefore, to reduce population growth and our impact on the planet we must embrace the feminist principal of equality and choice.
One key way of achieving this is through equal access to good quality education. Statistics show educated women have less children.
The UN states that Niger has the lowest female literacy rate in the world at 11% but the highest fertility rate at 7.6. Latvia on the other hand, has the highest female literacy rate at 99.9% but a fertility rate of just 1.7.
In fact, the bottom ten countries for female literacy, which are all developing countries, have an average fertility rate of 5.49. The top ten average just 1.94. It should also be noted that the literacy rate for women was on average 19.16% less than men in the bottom ten, compared to 0.01% in the top ten.
It is also important that women have equal opportunities in business through fair pay, equal access to employment, career advancement and entrepreneurship. It has been shown that when women have greater equality in business they have less children. Scandinavia has the smallest wage gap in the world and has an average birth rate of just 1.85. This is because women who have equal opportunities to advance in business, will often choose to have fewer children or choose to start a family later in life so they can continue pursuing their career goals.
Ability, not gender
It is in fact irrational that profit driven businesses should even consider gender when employing or advancing somebody, the only relevant factor should be a person’s ability to advance the business. Despite this, women still face adversity in business.
Women who lead are often depicted as controlling and cold, whereas their male counterparts are depicted as strong. This is just one example of the unfair and sexist stereotypes women face in business and wider society.
Businesses should lead from the front and dismiss the stereotypes that hold women back and instead empower women by guaranteeing equal opportunities.
By doing so, business will be rewarded by having access to a larger pool of talent who want to work for a fair employer, and gaining a competitive advantage over those who still believe board rooms and management should be the domain of men.
Furthermore, by paying women fairly and defeating sexist culture, businesses will be rewarded with a stronger untied workforce. This will increase productivity and ensure that those advancing are the best people regardless of gender.
Finally, women through diversity can bring a valuable and unique perspective to the board room and management, increasing a business’s ability to see and capture a wider market, and find new opportunities which other less diverse businesses cannot see. All of which is a major competitive advantage.
It should also be pointed out that feminism is beneficial for the economy. The McKinsey Global Institute believes that 2025 projections for US GDP would be 10% higher if women participated equally in the work place and the wage gap was eliminated.
Therefore, developing countries should embrace feminism not only as a means to make their countries fairer and to reduce their need for natural resource, but also because it is advantageous for their growing economies.
If we can achieve real equality in our businesses, then in time business leaders in developing countries will also embrace the benefits of equality and adopt the same principles. This combined with equal access to education and employment opportunities should lead to a reduction in the fertility rate in those countries.
This will slow population growth and lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions, meaning future environmental damage will be reduced.
Feminism is therefore good for the environment, good for business, good for the economy, and of course good for society.
Robert Westall is the co-founder of Naked Accounting, a firm specialising in providing innovative and bespoke accounting and business solutions. Read his other article, ‘British Leaders lack vision for Post-EU Britain’ in this Section.