Electing Women is Key to Happiness: New Report

When men and women are paid more equally and more women are in elected office, a country tends to be more economically successful and happy. Now the Biden Administration is offering more of this kind of happiness in the U.S.

electing women
Electing women was a big theme of the Women’s March, 2018. (Photo by Mirah Curzer on Unsplash)

Riane Eisler and Robyn Baker make some excellent points in a recent article in Ms. Magazine entitled Want to Make Your Country Happier? Elect Women.

The article discusses how the 2021 World Happiness Report has some startling news for the globe: research indicates that generous government spending on society’s infrastructure – the services and systems that improve people’s quality of life – is key to happiness.

Top ranking countries In The World Happiness Report include Finland as number one, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and the Netherlands. These countries all have a healthy market economy that specifically invests in taking care of people, cradle to grave. And not only do these countries have a full array of social services, they have another key characteristic in common: they have more women in leadership positions.

Finland has been way ahead of the game in the women’s leadership department for more than a century. In 1906 they passed the Parliamentary Act which gave women the right to vote. Long before the United States, Finland gave women permission to both vote and run for office. Today, women make up about half of the Finnish national legislature.

Moreso than men, women in leadership understand what makes for a good life — giving families more access to public services that promote human development, and valuing and paying for care services. The presence of women in government leads to stronger care policies that support human infrastructure for all, from quality early childhood education to universal health care.

As early as 1995, the Center for Partnership Studies established the connection between publicly supported care services and quality of life. CPS published a report based on data from 89 countries entitled Women, Men and Global Quality of Life, which indicates this exact connection. Since then, other studies such as the Global Values ​​Survey and the Gender Gap Reports for the World Economic Forums have have also validated the relationship between the standard of living and the economy of a country and the higher status of women.

And Yet, It Seems, Many Countries Prefer Misery to Happiness

Why do so many wealthy and presumably egalitarian countries lack equal representation from women in government? Being able to get elected requires that you already have a certain amount of standing in society, as well as the base and the financial resources to execute a successful election campaign. Most women in the so-called “developed” world lack this level of resources and social standing. That’s the reason organizations like Emily’s List, Emerge, She Should Run and Higher Heights play such a critical role in changing the game. They help women overcome the early hurdles to getting elected.

Biden Gives Attention to How to Improve American Happiness

President Biden is coming at the issue of American happiness with a very ambitious plan. The Biden-Harris administration has put forth the American Families Plan — a multifaceted attempt to facilitate the kind of investment in human infrastructure that should help our country to be a more caring place, and also support a robust economy. In other words, paying for what was once considered “women’s work” is a major key to economic success and national happiness.

The Role of Women Donors in Increasing Women’s Political Power

Women donors are also growing in their recognition of the need to fund women candidates and the pipeline to political power for women. New platforms like The 19th are helping to fuel the growing awareness that women’s leadership is just better quality on a number of levels that have grown increasingly important in light of COVID and climate change. Once we reach critical mass with enough women in political leadership, we might begin to see some acceleration of change toward a more sustainable and caring planet. Time will tell.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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