The Capitalist West Is the Best Place to Be a Woman

Contrary to the suggestions of "third-wave" feminism, the best cure against gender discrimination is economic liberalization

Higher economic freedom brings greater well-being for women (photo: Flickr).

Spanish – Many times when a social problem is close to resolution, or at least when it exhibits a positive dynamic that provides us a glimpse of its end in the near future, it is usually when a large part of the population is even aware of the mere existence of the problem and is organized politically to end it.

The great tales of poverty left to us by Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist) or Victor Hugo (Les Miserables) contrast with the substantial improvement in the living standards of the population in the industrial era. Multiple commissions on poverty and laws to alleviate its effects came out of the English Parliament just as poverty was already shrinking.

Something similar is happening with third-wave feminism (by far the most virulent). Feminists complain about the inferior status of women in places where the problem has already been practically solved (Western capitalist countries) and at the moment, where discrimination is minimal.

Moreover, feminism is one of those new flags that those defeated by the fall of the Berlin Wall hoist as their own. The feminist movement is in many parts of the world taken over by the old left. Proof of this is the increasingly clear application of Marxist sociology of class struggle to gender. The manifesto of the last feminist strike 8M is the most blatant expression of a manifesto written by an anti-capitalist left.

Third-wave feminism links patriarchy with capitalism on the one hand and patriarchy with western society on the other. Let’s look at each case separately to see if there is any truth in these claims.

Capitalism and the patriarchy

New age feminism often invokes an association between capitalism and patriarchy. So, we should expect the most capitalist countries to be the ones that most oppress the women, either with discriminatory laws or restrictions of different kinds. To see if this is true, let’s look at the condition of women according to how capitalist the country where they live is.

Source Heritage Foundation. Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security. The data presented is from 149 countries; each dot represents a country with its respective score in each index.

Higher economic freedom correlates with greater well-being for women. So it seems that as capitalism advances, so do women’s rights.

If we divide countries into quadrants depending on the most capitalist (first quadrant) to the least capitalist (last quadrant), we also see how the average score on the women’s welfare index increases substantially the more capitalist a country is.

Source Heritage Foundation. Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security.

From the data, we can infer that the truth is the opposite of what the feminists have told us. As capitalism advances, so does the situation of women. The Georgetown index assesses the most factors of possible discrimination against women (specifically, it has sub-indexes of inclusion, justice, and security).

In short, when countries are more capitalist, the condition of social inclusion improves, discriminatory laws disappear, and women’s security increases. The data show that the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy presented to us by feminist groups does not occur in reality.

Western society and the patriarchy

Another major complaint of feminists is the supposed relationship between patriarchy and western culture. It is difficult, and there is some controversy in trying to sort countries according to different civilizations. Language is an essential cultural vehicle, but it is too narrow (we could easily say that Italians and Spaniards are of Western culture although they speak different languages).

Another possible way is through religion since we could say that Western culture is essentially of Judeo-Christian origin, but using religion as a criterion for belonging to the West is not without problems either. For example, much of Africa professes Christianity, and yet we would hardly think that these African countries belong to Western civilization. To draw a line between Western civilization and all other civilizations we will use Huntington’s division in his 2011 book, Clash of Civilizations.

Thus, Huntington distinguishes nine different civilizations. If we rank countries by type of civilization and calculate the average score on the women’s well-being index, we get the following graph.

Source Huntington (2011). Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security.

Here we see how, indeed, Western civilization is the one that best protects women’s rights. Being in a western country signifies a better position for women in terms of social inclusion, non-discrimination, and increased security. Western women enjoy the most rights in the world.

Of the 20 countries with the highest well-being for women, 19 are Western countries (Singapore, a capitalist country par excellence, would be the only non-Western country). The Islamic country with the highest welfare for women is the United Arab Emirates, which ranks 43rd in the world and has a score almost identical to that of the penultimate western country on the list (Hungary). On the contrary, of the 20 worst countries with the least welfare for women, 15 are Islamic countries, and five are African ones. Western countries are, therefore, the best place in the world to be a woman.


Discrimination against women is a phenomenon typical of anti-capitalist and Islamic countries. The protection of women’s rights, in bright contrast, is a phenomenon that occurs in capitalist and western nations. Therefore, the best cure against gender discrimination is to adopt policies aimed at economic liberalization, as well as to cultivate and protect western values.

This article was originally published in UFM Market Trends.

Subscribe free to our daily newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news, updates and special reports delivered directly to your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time