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Let Women Work

The Economic Case for Feminism

A woman’s place: at a car show room in Riyadh, October 2017   Faisal Nasser / Reuters

In June, Saudi Arabia will make it legal for women to drive, marking the end of one of the world’s most conspicuous examples of gender discrimination. The ban’s removal has been rightly hailed as a victory in a country that systematically limits women’s freedoms. But for Saudi officials, this policy reversal has more to do with economics than concern for women’s rights. In recent years, even culturally conservative countries such as the Gulf kingdom have begun to recognize that they cannot get ahead if they leave half of their human capital behind.

Women’s advocates have long championed gender parity as a moral issue. But in the modern global economy, eliminating obstacles to women’s economic participation is also a strategic imperative. A growing body of evidence confirms the positive relationship between women’s participation in the labor force and overall growth. In 2013, the Organization for

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