On This President’s Day We Ask, “Where are the Women?”

We’ve heard the “where are the women” phrase lately, as a recent US congressional hearing on women’s health featured a witness panel that was 100% male. And, as today is President’s Day in the US, it is a good time to point out that increasing the diversity of voices at the table (Congressional witness tables included) often starts at the top. And, in most countries around the world, those political leadership voices are male.

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, the most recently elected female head of state

Not everywhere, however. Currently, there are 27 female heads of state, according to guide2womenleaders.com. (Here is a list of them.) This represents 14% of the leaders of the 193 countries represented in the United Nations. Not nearly enough, wouldn’t you agree?

Indeed, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap reports point out that, while gender parity in health and education have improved in recent years and are near parity in many countries, political and economic equality both still have a long way to go.

Where are the women political leaders? The most recent Global Gender Gap report (issued in October of last year) lists the following ten countries as those with the closest political parity between women and men:

  1. Iceland
  2. Finland
  3. Norway
  4. Sweden
  5. Spain
  6. Ireland
  7. Sri Lanka
  8. New Zealand
  9. South Africa
  10. Denmark

How does your country rate on political parity for women, as well as economic, education and health? Check out the 2011 Global Gender Gap report to find out.

Finally, good women, the power lies with us. Support your female candidates for office with your volunteer time AND your money … or run for office yourself! The world needs more women in positions of political and economic power.

Google Joins the Women’s Enterprise Development Bandwagon … Cautiously

Large corporations are starting to trip over each other in the race to assist women entrepreneurs in developing economies (not that you’ll hear us complaining – far from it)! There’s Coke’s 5 x 20 program, Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative, and Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative.

Now jumping into the fray, with a pilot program in India, is Google. The new Women Entrepreneurs on the Web program is designed to help women business owners take their businesses online, and if it’s successful, watch for it to expand to other countries. A helping hand, or a play for global domination of the web? You decide – and keep watch for their expansion into other countries.

What are the blogmeisters saying? Read a few posts on Forbes.com, Fusible, and from Google India itself.

Find more about the program at womenentrepreneursontheweb.com or at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which looks to be partnering on the mentoring aspects of the effort.