Women in the Free Market
Do you ever feel like every ad on your Instagram feed has basically the same message? "We believe in empowering women." I feel like I see that sentence from every company, every day. I can’t be the only one. It’s a pretty good message, as far as ads go. Who doesn’t support empowering women?
Here’s another message that we’re inundated with on the regular – this time usually by politicians, Twitter commentators, and columnists: "the free market economy is an oppressive, outdated system, and it needs to be replaced by a socially equitable distributive system in which everyone is taken care of." Namely, socialism. A system that currently enjoys ever-growing popularity.
Both are seemingly good messages. Both seem likely to benefit and appeal to women, who are often acutely aware of injustice and need among those at the margins of society. After all, women across the globe struggle to this day under oppressive policies and are often the ones left to grapple with poverty after they are left the sole providers for their children.
However, socialism is completely incompatible with empowering women.
The free market, on the other hand, does extraordinary things for women. It’s one of the many ways the free market makes the world a better place. Let me prove it to you.
- The free market allows women to be independent of a patriarch or husband.
In a free market, everyone is free to choose their own occupation. This means that a woman who might otherwise be financially dependent on, say, her father, has the freedom to choose to find a job she wants, or even start a business. The free market puts financial decisions into the hands of each individual, which is so important for any woman seeking her independence. She is automatically not dependent on a government who has decided her financial needs for her. If she decides that she needs more income or a different job, there is no governmental entity holding her back from pursuing what SHE wants.
- The free market facilitates women’s voices in the marketplace.
In a free market, whoever has the best product wins (read that again). If that person happens to be a woman, her voice will be elevated, driven by all the people who want to buy her product.
This accomplishes two things. First, it benefits that woman and enables her to be financially successful. Second, it allows for a female perspective on goods and services. So, for example, a product is designed by a man, and doesn’t work well for women. Only in a free market can a woman see that shortcoming in the male-designed product, design her own, and make a better product. This benefits her individually, as well as every woman whose life is made better by her idea.
Similarly, in a free market women have buying power to influence the market as consumers. If women like Product A better than Product B, they can choose Product A. This incentivizes suppliers to consider women’s needs and preferences when developing their product or service, resulting in better choices for women and the market at large.
- The free market empowers women to make the career and lifestyle choices THEY want.
Again, it’s all about freedom of choice. In a free market, a woman can choose to pursue whatever occupation she wants, whenever she wants.
Rather than the top-down socialistic policies of the Soviet Union, for example, which promoted women’s presence in STEM fields, a free market economy does not artificially force women into fields as it sees fit; instead, a free market allows a woman to seek out compensation for her skills according to her preferences. She is free to seek out a career in any industry or environment she desires, at any point in her life that she desires. The free market allows for a woman to honor her own dignity as a whole person, creative, entrepreneur, and equal – not just a worker. Not just a data point on a given occupation’s diversity stats.
Women who want careers in STEM? They can do that! Women who want to be artists? They can do that! Women who want to put their careers on pause to stay home with their children, travel, or care for an aging parent? They can do that too. They can even pursue any combination of those things.
All of these opportunities are things we take for granted in the U.S. We don't even think about it! We don’t have laws that dictate what career a woman must be in, or what she must do with her own skills and finances. Women are free to pursue whatever career they want, spend their money where they please, and even start businesses if they so desire. Let us not forget - this is not a given.
If we truly want to empower women, we must fight for their rights to economic freedom, and preserve a market in which a woman’s only limitations are her own work ethic and ingenuity.