Online exhibit explores women and the global economy

Woman at workDid you know that women make up 70% of the world's population living in extreme poverty on less than $1 a day? Or that women produce 60% to 80% of the world's food, but hold down only 1% of the world's land and 10% of the world's wealth? Despite these statistics, women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs and professionals in the world.

The role of women in the global economy is the focus of a new, free online exhibit called "Economica: Women and the Global Economy." The multimedia exploration of women's lives around the world is part of the International Museum of Women (IMOW), an online social change museum.

The exhibit features slide shows with audio commentaries on a variety of topics that include how the global financial crisis has opened up new opportunities for women, Arab businesswomen redefining their roles in the Middle East, microfinance in South America, and a piece on how thousands of Indian farm women are coping with huge levels of debt after their husbands committed suicide. You can also listen to podcasts, participate in forum discussions and even submit your own work for possible inclusion in the exhibition.

"Our goal in creating the "Economica" exhibition is to showcase women's broad experiences as well as their exceptional expertise. We aim to illuminate what is going on in different corners of the world, why and what can be done to make things better," Masum Momaya, curator of the exhibit, said in a statement. "We want to acknowledge that women are a powerful engine of economic growth, but also help visitors dive beneath the jargon of economics to discover deeper causes and effects and probe how things might be different."

The current economic crisis has greatly impacted women around the world in numerous ways. And some experts are even calling for more investment in women as a way to solve the economic crisis and achieve long-term economic sustainability, she said.

"For most women, the economic crisis is not new but rather a long time in the making. Well before banks and insurance companies in industrialized countries asked to be bailed out, women were bailing out governments from cutbacks on social spending," said Momaya. "For decades, women have provided their own form of insurance: working harder and longer, taking on extra jobs for more income, giving up rest and leisure and enduring stress, poor health and disease as a result ... In doing so, they have allowed countries and corporations to export and trade and they have shored up GDPs and company profits -- without seeing significant gains for themselves."

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