It wasn’t that long ago that the idea that women could run the world seemed slightly ridiculous – like something out of science fiction. But in an essay to mark International Women’s Day, political analyst and former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers says it’s now a topic that can be seriously discussed. So what has changed? A lot. As a growing body of research and experience clearly shows, empowering women makes things better. Not perfect. But better.

Business is more profitable. Governments are more representative. Families are stronger and communities are healthier. There is less violence – and more peace, stability and sustainability.

The gender diversity in this year’s race builds on Hillary Clinton’s race four years ago. His candidacy and triumphant popular vote victory shattered the glass ceiling, but certainly not in the most anticipated way. In her campaign, our collective consciousness expanded until we all expected to see a female commander in chief (whether we hated the idea or not). As it turns out, the ceiling was in our heads, and the rise of women in politics, has shaken the foundations of American culture.

As women continue to flock to all levels of political leadership, the #MeToo movement continues to work on us from within. Emerge, an organization that has recruited and trained various Democratic women in Nevada and Colorado, is part of a wave of national groups working to increase the number of women elected. She the People, a new network encouraging women of color to enter politics, won bragging rights in April by attracting eight presidential candidates (including four women) as speakers.

Studies also show that women also lead differently from men. They are more likely to be collaborative, inclusive and team-oriented, all characteristics that tend to be effective, especially in today’s less hierarchical, fast-paced, and innovation-driven world.

Women are also essential to building and maintaining peace. Today, almost half of peace agreements fail within five years, largely because half of the stakeholders are excluded. When women are at the table, they help bridge the gap between different groups and ensure that a wider range of issues, from food security to sexual violence, are addressed. As a result, peace is more likely to take root.

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